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Hurricane Season - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q 1: How are decisions made about what the hospital will do during a hurricane?
See the organization’s Hurricane Response Plan on smh.com and on the Emergency Management site on PULSE. The plan provides the information necessary for an effective and safe response to hurricanes that could affect Sarasota Memorial.

Q 2: Who needs to work before, during and after a hurricane?
Department directors will assign employees to one of the following teams:

  • Pre-Team
    Non-clinical employees assigned to the Labor Pool to assist with the intake of People with Special needs and other preparations. Assignments may include registration, transport, meal delivery, etc. Pre-Team Labor Pool members may go home prior to lockdown of the facility and arrival of Response Team members.
  • Hurricane Response (A) Team
    Employees identified by their department director to work during an emergency. These staff members may carry out their normal duties, or they may be assigned to a Labor Pool to assist with assignments during a hurricane response period. Department directors are required to provide advanced notification and/or an emergency work schedule (and document) to each Response A Team member on an annual basis. If the employee is unable to report to work during a declared emergency period, he/she must contact his/her direct supervisor to inform them of their situation as soon as possible.
  • Recovery (B) Team
    Employees who are not immediately required to work at the onset of the emergency period; however, they may be upgraded to “Response Team” depending on organizational needs. They also will be asked to relieve Response A Team members once the immediate emergency has passed. Under emergency conditions or severe weather, or when a State of Local Emergency (SLE) has been declared, “Recovery B Team” will adhere to the guidelines associated with the job category assigned to them at the time of the emergency conditions or severe weather event.
    In the event of power loss, please click here for a list of radio stations broadcasting emergency information.
  • Physician Team
    Physicians have disaster plans in place that are coordinated through the Medical Staff office. Members of the Medical Staff will serve on the Response A Team to help ensure we have sufficient on-site coverage throughout a hurricane.

Q 3: Are there any exemptions from a Hurricane Assignment? 
All employees are assigned a Hurricane team as designated by their department. Staff who are on a Leave of Absence (LOA), preapproved vacation or required to be a caregiver for a sick family/People with Special Needs will be exempt. Please see your manager if you fall into one of these categories.

Q 4: What actions will be taken if I do not show up for my work assignment? 
Assignments to hurricane teams are mandatory and part of your health care obligation to serve the community. Sarasota Memorial will never require you to put yourself at risk, but we do require you to fulfill your assignment, if needed, in the event of a hurricane. If your home or family sustains flooding/damage and you cannot fulfill your assignment, or you have an extenuating circumstance, please contact your manager immediately. Failure to fulfill a mandatory assignment may result in a final warning up to and including termination.

Q 5: Where should A Team members park? 
A Team members should park in any of the garages when reporting to work during a hurricane response. 

Q 6: What do I need to bring and wear? 
A Team members should be prepared to stay at SMH for an extended period of time, and should bring their hospital ID badge along with sleeping bags, air mattresses or bed linens, as well as several days’ worth of cash, changes of clothing, toiletries and personal hygiene items, prescriptions, towels and any special dietary food, in addition to supplies for Child Care or pets that have been pre-registered. For more information please refer to page 23 of the Hurricane Response Plan, which is located on PULSE and smh.com

Please plan to wear your regular uniform/scrubs. For staff in other areas: Comfortable clothing/shoes are highly recommended. The hospital may get chilly, especially at night, so consider bringing long-sleeved shirts or a light sweater or jacket. Jeans are allowed. 

Q 7: Can A or B Team members bring family members to the hospital? 
Facilities are limited and must be reserved for patients, assigned PSNs and A Team members. In addition, the hospital may become a receiving facility for patients evacuated from other hospitals. To ensure we have sufficient capacity and supplies, the hospital is not able to accommodate employees' family members, with the exception of children of A & B Team members who pre-registered for Child Care. Please make plans ahead of time to help keep your loved ones safe.

Q 8: Will Child Care be offered? 
Yes, Sarasota Memorial will provide on-site Child Care for A & B Team members who have no other alternatives, but staff must pre-register. Registration forms are available on the Emergency Management site on PULSE and smh.com.

Q 9: Can A Team members bring a pet to the hospital? 
Sarasota Memorial is prepared to open a pet shelter for A Team members who have no other options. Registration is required and forms are available on the Emergency Management site on PULSE and smh.com. The pet shelter will be located in a secure area of the South Parking Garage, but space is limited, so send your pet shelter registration ASAP to Pet Shelter Coordinator Kenan Ryan at fax number 917-1310.

Q 10: Where do A Team members report for duty? How will shifts be staffed?

Where to go: 

All A Team members should report to their designated department locations at the time announced by hospital leaders. Employees who are not immediately needed by their designated department should report to the Labor Pool, located on the first floor of the Courtyard Tower, near Surgery Reception.

  • Non-exempt, hourly A Team members are expected to be properly clocked in at his or her work location at the start of the hurricane activation time announced by hospital leaders.
  • All exempt, salaried A Team members must register at the Labor Pool on the first floor of Courtyard Tower near Surgery Reception within one hour after arrival, regardless of whether they are assigned to the Labor Pool or their own department. Exempt, salaried employees may briefly report to their designated department locations first to drop off their belongings if they wish. 

Staffing and Shifts: 

  • As a general rule, shifts will be staffed in 12-hour increments on the clinical units or as required by the Labor Pool. This includes employees who are working in their “home” departments.
  • Actual job duties performed before, during and after the storm will be in accordance with your specific departmental plan. Assignments are subject to change based on the needs of the organization. Staff will generally be provided an 8-hour sleep time as well as meal time (normally ½ hour for each 24 hour period). Staff should be generally relieved after 16 consecutive hours of worked time. 

Hospital access: 

  • Sarasota Memorial will control access to the facility soon after the designated time that A Team members are asked to be on-site. To ensure safety during dangerous weather conditions, hospital entrances and exits will be secured, with staff and patients asked to remain inside the hospital until the “All Clear” is announced. 

Q 11: How will I be paid?
Non-exempt employees will be paid at their base rate of pay for all actual hours worked while on duty, including sleep time, meal time and appropriate shift differential (if applicable). Overtime pay will depend upon actual number of hours worked during one week (or over 40, unless 8/80). Employees should clock a “No Lunch” when answering the Lunch Attestation question at the end of their shift. 

Professional and leadership, salaried exempt staff will be compensated at their normal minimum guaranteed salary. Salaried exempt staff will not be compensated beyond 40 hours/week unless approved by the SMHCS President/CEO. Refer to Policy, “Employee Compensation During Declared Emergency Conditions”, #00.PER.07.

Q 12: Where will I sleep, shower, and eat during activation? 
A list of sleep and shower locations/assignments is on the PULSE/Emergency Management site. Please see your supervisor if you have questions. Off-site staff will typically be assigned to sleep in the area of the hospital where they are working. The Logistics Chief in the Hospital’s Command Center can help respond to questions and concerns about sleeping and shower areas.

Windows Cafeteria will have extended hours for meal times, and also will be open during other hours for snacks and beverages. Employee rates will be applied for all meals, for both employees and any children who are in on-site Child Care. 

Q 13: If I am the Recovery (B) Team, how will I know when to report to duty? 
Members of the B Team are expected to report to work after the hurricane, once roads are declared safe for travel, to relieve the A Team. B Team members should monitor the Hurricane Hot Line at (941) 917-8799, email, smh.com, SMH social media (Facebook and Twitter), and local TV and radio news for hospital-related announcements during and after the hurricane. Depending on circumstances, we will try to give B Team members at least several hours' notice before they need to report for duty. B Team members should be sure to have their hospital ID badge when coming to work.

Q 14: After the hurricane, when will the A Team be released to go home? 
You will be able to leave when you are relieved by the B Team (Recovery) and/or with the approval of your manager. Although an “all clear” may be announced, you must confirm with your manager BEFORE YOU LEAVE the premises that you have permission to leave, and to determine when you are to report back to work.

Q 15: If I am not on the A or B Team, how will I be paid?
If not assigned to work during the hurricane response or recovery periods, employees will use PTOA or time off without pay as approved by your manager.

Q 16: If I am not on the A or B Team, when do I report back to work? 
Sarasota Memorial plans to return to normal business activities when the hurricane has passed, following Sarasota County’s announcement of “All Clear,” which indicates that roads are safe for travel. Returning to your normal work schedule will depend on local conditions and the organization’s ability to resume routine business activities. Should our business be interrupted for an extended period, attempts will be made to notify you. Please stay tuned and monitor local news, the Employee Hotline: 941-917-8799, your email, smh.com, SMH Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) for information updates. Any questions about your schedule should be directed to your manager.

Q 17: Where can I find key contact numbers and SMH hurricane policies and procedures? How can I reach the Command Center and Labor Pool? 
Comprehensive hurricane information is on the Emergency Management site on PULSE and on smh.com. The Hurricane Response Plan includes policies and procedures regarding patients and their family members, evacuation of the facility if necessary, accommodations, activation procedures and other important issues that may arise.

  • Command Center: Watch for emails/communications about the exact time/date the Command Center will open; the center will be located on the third floor of the Service Building and can be reached at 917-6100.
  • Labor Pool: Watch for emails/communications about the exact time/date the Labor Pool will open; it will be located on the first floor of the Courtyard Tower near Surgery Reception and can be reached at 917-5515.

Q 18: Where will Child Care activities be located during the activation period? 
Child Care Services will be provided in the Waldemere Auditorium/Volunteer department. Children and teenagers in Child Care will not be allowed to roam the hospital. Parents working on the day shift will be responsible for caring for their dependents after their shift is over. Child Care Services will supervise children and teens of night shift employees after their shift ends so staff members can sleep. Parents should pack bottles and milk together in clearly labeled bags, pillows, diapers, blankets, medications, special dietary food and other essential items for their children. Food and snacks will be provided.

Q 19: How will we handle PSNs (People with Special Needs)? 
Sarasota County has designated Sarasota Memorial as a medical shelter for People with Special Needs who require hospitalization during an emergency situation; for instance, community members requiring around-the-clock health care maintenance or people with medical equipment that requires continuous electrical power. People with Special Needs must register with the Sarasota County Office of Emergency Management at 941-861-5000 prior to hurricane season. SMH Integrated Case Management and the Logistics Center coordinate PSN intake, placement and other processes.

Q 20: What physicians will be on staff during the hurricane?
Members of the Medical Staff will serve on the A Team to ensure the hospital has sufficient on-site physician coverage throughout the storm. Per normal procedure, staff may consult the “Today’s Physician On Call List” under the “Emergency Care Center” department site on PULSE to contact physicians. During the hurricane activation period, physician participation will be coordinated through the Physician Command Center, which will be set up in an office area adjacent to the Physician Lounge.

Q 21: What if the hospital loses utility services such as water or electricity? 
Sarasota Memorial has backup power systems, including five generators in the Central Energy Center on campus that can power all of the hospital’s current equipment and systems for 10-14 days. Red receptacles and light switches should always be used in case any portion of our generator capability is compromised; the red receptacles/switches have priority for generator backup. There may be a 7 to 10 second delay in power if the hospital needs to switch from normal electricity to back-up power. The hospital also has an emergency well that can provide water for general non-drinking use if necessary, and plenty of bottled water available for consumption by patients and staff.

Q 22: Do we have downtime procedures for charting in the patient’s record and recording timecards for staff? 
Each department should have emergency downtime plans and procedures in place to ensure smooth operations if any of our main communications/utility systems are compromised. If any of these key systems are not working, a notification will be sent to all staff indicating that downtime procedures should go into effect. Also as outlined in policy 00.PER.07, the hospital will record staff’s worked time manually, using the Emergency Timecard (Form E), when downtime procedures are in effect.

Q 23: What happens if the building sustains major damage or a staff member gets injured? 
First and foremost, staff/patients should seek refuge to the closest and safest area, either horizontally or vertically. In the event of major damage, the hospital will immediately issue a disaster activation that will include the rescue of individuals, the securing and repair of the damaged area, and/or evacuation of patients and personnel into other areas of the hospital.

Staff who require medical treatment at any time should go or be transported to the Emergency Care Center. 

For leaks and minor repairs needed during the hurricane activation period, please contact the Command Center at ext. 6100. 

Q 24: How will nursing mothers store breast milk pumped if part of Team A during lockdown? 
We recommend that nursing mothers speak to their managers about storing clearly labeled and packaged milk in their employee refrigerator/freezer. Breast milk is a food item and there are no contraindications for storing it in a normal fridge/freezer in the department/unit. If space is expected to be sparse in the employee fridge/freezer on the unit, the employee must bring a cooler. Milk can be kept on ice for 24 hours, with the ice changed as needed. 

If needed, Sarasota Memorial also has limited space for breast milk in the Milk Depot freezer in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This is not a patient freezer – it is only for holding donated milk that is sent to a milk bank in Orlando.

Q 25: Where can I find information on the location of area hurricane shelters and evacuation zones and hurricane planning tips? 
For information/location of area hurricane shelters and evacuation zones and other planning information, go to the Sarasota County website at www.scgov.net