natural disaster

natural disaster


Health workers and patients have an increasing trend been faced with constant threats both man-made and natural. These threats have in a significant way affected service delivery and overall security of workers and patients. Sometimes when such occurrences take place, it becomes difficult for health workers to report to duty making it stressful for those who were found by the threats on duty. This, in turn, puts a challenge to quality healthcare provision. These threats can include fires, floods, and acts of terrorism.


Floods are perhaps the most frequent natural disaster that has a huge effect on human life. They cause losses and other forms of suffering. The most immediate outcomes of floods usually are deaths, injuries, and destruction of hospital equipment as experienced with hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In August this year, hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in Texas causing immense flooding. La Vita Bella Nursing Home in Dickinson Texas was among the affected places with floodwater rising to waist height.[1] The lives of elderly citizens cared for in the facility came under imminent danger as water levels kept on rising. Since facility did not have adequate equipment to help evacuate residents, it took the swift action of local rescue teams to save residents. Other facilities such as Bay Shore Medical Center and East Houston Regional Medical Center both in Houston remained closed consequent to hurricane Harvey’s destruction2.


Fires in health facilities can emanate from cooking areas, electrical connections, and heating equipment. When they occur, fires can be very destructive if they are not controlled in time destroying hospital property and equipment. This is evidenced by a Pennsylvanian facility that was consumed by fire in November 2017[2]. This facility supported by Barclay Friends in West Chester had several of its units brought down by the fire. Several people from the nursing home were hospitalized with injuries. Staff in the home took to moving residents to warm and safer facilities.


It’s evident that in spite of some threats to health facilities being uncontrollable most of them can be mitigated. Putting preventive measures in place would go a long way in ensuring staff and patients are well protected. It should also call for investing in sustainable preparedness programs by all stakeholders as well as carrying out awareness campaigns on these threats.

[1] Milstein Kara and Rosenbaum Sophia. (2017). ‘Need Help ASAP.’ The Story Behind the Photo of Nursing Home Residents Trapped in Flood Water. Retrieved from


[2] Hanna Jason, Allen Keith and Chavez Nicole. (2017). Pennsylvania nursing home fire: 20 injured; dozens evacuated. Retrieved from

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