How to Mitigate the Risk of Natural Disasters for Hospitals

Published On: April 4th, 2024

Coastal hurricanes cause billions in damage, but their impact on hospitals is especially severe. Power outages cripple vital operations, highlighting the need for facility managers to proactively map their infrastructure vulnerabilities to ensure continued care during disasters.

Infrastructure preparedness and risk mitigation plans are critical for hospitals facing natural disasters. Key steps include backup power, flood protection and securing utilities. Hospitals with well-prepared plans such as Cleveland Clinics’s allow facilities to operate through even severe disasters. As environments become more unpredictable, preparedness is vital for providers serving vulnerable patients.


Biggest Challenges in Hospital Infrastructure Management

Hospital infrastructure asset management is challenging, especially during natural disasters. Facilities face numerous obstacles, including:

  • Risks of Poor Infrastructure Management: Neglected maintenance and outdated systems can lead to critical failures, jeopardizing patient safety and care. Failure to pay attention to faucet leaks across a hospital can cost thousands of dollars every year.
  • Finding Assets During Emergencies: Hospitals can face chaos as staff scramble to locate vital equipment. Manual inventory systems or outdated records can make finding defibrillators, ventilators, or even gurneys a time-consuming nightmare. This precious time lost searching could have a direct impact on patient care during critical moments.
  • Potential Accidents Across the Facility: Electrical fires, structural collapses, and major water damage pose risks that can severely impact hospital facilities, employees, and patients.
  • Coordination Problems: Disjointed communication and a lack of a comprehensive plan can lead to inefficiencies and delays in emergency response.


Mapping Out Vulnerabilities

Facility managers can leverage GIS to create a comprehensive digital twin of their hospital infrastructure. This visual map goes beyond locations, pinpointing vulnerabilities in critical systems and highlighting areas for improvement, allowing for proactive maintenance and enhanced operational efficiency.

Artificial intelligence combined with GIS tooling can help automate thorough assessments of the hospital, detecting potential problems and recommending solutions before they come to the surface. Visualizing facility assets virtually enhances understanding, enabling precise planning and informed decision-making.


Proven Success in Mapping Out Vulnerabilities

In 2019, natural disasters impacted over 95 million people worldwide, claimed 11,755 lives, and resulted in economic losses totaling $103 billion, as documented in a report by the Centres for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (EM DAT).

By implementing a comprehensive infrastructure mapping system, they identified critical vulnerabilities in their emergency power system. Proactive upgrades ensured that when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, the hospital remained fully operational, saving countless lives and significantly reducing potential costs.


Benefits of Proactive Infrastructure Asset Management

  • Enhanced Emergency Preparedness: Well-prepared facilities management teams can respond swiftly and effectively, ensuring the priority of patient care.
  • Reduced Damage and Financial Loss: By identifying and addressing key risks, hospitals can minimize damage to their infrastructure and avoid expensive repairs or hidden costs that don’t show up until later.
  • Improved Patient Safety and Hospital Reputation: Hospitals that are resilient during disasters ensure patient safety and also enhance their community reputation.


The Future of Infrastructure Asset Management

The increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters showcases the importance of intentional infrastructure management for hospitals. By incorporating an infrastructure mapping system using the latest technology, facility managers can ensure hospital resilience, reduce costs, and most importantly, allow the rest of the hospital to focus on saving lives.  This includes planning the use of rooms or areas for patient rooms, changing the use of rooms as needed, with all necessary piping, ventilation changes, etc.  An infrastructure mapping system can facilitate these efforts by providing a clear understanding of the physical layout of the hospital, as well as the capabilities of its existing infrastructure. This allows for more efficient and effective planning in the event of a disaster.


Inframappa is ready to assist in this process, offering real-time infrastructure mapping solutions customized to the needs of healthcare providers. We provide GIS-powered mapping systems, using VR and AR to quickly get the information you need to make rapid-fire decisions in emergencies.

For facility managers who want to set their hospitals up for success, Inframappa offers the tools and decades of expertise to make the infrastructure changes you need. Request a demo to learn more.

Recent Posts