If there is one thing that we have all learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that public health emergencies can have a significant impact on healthcare personnel and facilities. During this unprecedented time, our nation’s hospitals, in particular, have had to work through medical surges, staffing shortages, and equipment scarcity, among other things. And, all while providing life-saving medical services in the safest way possible for both patients and personnel.

Fortunately for everyone, this was and continues to be, achievable through Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning as required by the Joint Commission’s Emergency Management Standards.

COOP plans, as you know, document exactly how an organization’s departments will perform essential functions during an emergency or disruption, regardless of the type of event—natural, manmade or technological.  In other words, they take an all-hazards approach to preparedness planning. COOP plans also identify internal and external communication methods, as well as alternate personnel, systems, and facilities.

According to the Joint Commission, best practice of COOP planning includes, at a minimum, the following three components:

  • Continuity of facilities and communications to support organizational functions.
  • A succession plan that lists who replaces the key leader(s) during an emergency if the leader is not available to carry out his or her duties.
  • A delegation of authority plan that describes the decisions and policies that can be implemented by authorized successors.

If your hospital has activated its COOP plan during the COVID-19 p