Disasters in healthcare

Disasters in healthcare are situations that lead to emergencies and increased health risks. A good example is the Covid-19 which leads to an exponential increase in the number of patients and a significantly high mortality rate. Another example, which is also a case in point for this presentation, is the catastrophic derailment of an oil-tanker train and the subsequent explosion and fire at Valley City. In such situations, planning is paramount as it helps assess the capabilities of various agencies in society and deploy ideal strategies to mitigate the risks and begin recovery. I consider recovery to be the most critical part of the whole disaster situation since it is a response and restoration of the previous state of society or an improvement from the risks and the damage caused during the accident.


For instance, the catastrophic derailment of an oil-tanker train led to an increased number of patients from a wide range of diversity related to age, illness, and race. The available healthcare facilities handle these patients with limited resources to ensure equitable healthcare and overall speedy restoration of better health outcomes. The Valley City Homeless shelter is already filled to capacity, and the community has many homeless people. There are 204 elderly residents with health complications, and financial crisis is rooming in the community. The Valley City Regional Hospital has insufficient bed, old ambulances, and limited resources to cater for the health needs due to the disaster.  In this presentation, I will describe a disaster recovery plan for the Vila Health community that will lessen health disparities and improve access to services after a disaster.


The Vila Health community disaster recovery plan is based on the MAP-IT (Mobilize, Assess, Plan, Implement, Track) framework. The framework is a stepwise guide for ensuring better health outcomes in communities through planning and evaluation of practice interventions in the community (Hansen et al., 2017). According to the office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, MAP-IT assists in mobilizing partners, aligning plans with the objectives of Healthy People 2020, assessing the needs of a community, and tracking the performance of the plan (“Program Planning,” 2021). As such, the current plan will require mobilizing community emergency service groups, leaders of community groups, and authorities in ensuring healthcare service is availed to all who need it. Secondly, the plan requires an assessment of the needs of each person affected by an accident, which will include all types of illnesses, both physical and mental. Thirdly, the plan will be fair and just, ensuring absolute equity in healthcare delivery to meet the objective of Healthy People 2020. Lastly, the plan will have measurable milestones to track its progress.


Besides the medical actors that influence an individual’s health, there are other significant nonmedical factors. Social determinants of health (SDOH) include economic stability, access to quality education, access to quality healthcare, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context (Healthy People 2030, 2021). SDOH includes cultural, social, and economic enablers or barriers that hinder speedy recovery from a disaster. Such barriers include a considerable number of older adults with health complications, being member of the vulnerable and minority races, lack of awareness about channels of healthcare delivery, use of lip-reading or American Sign Language for those who cannot speak, and destruction of homes and facilities by the fire among other factors. Nevertheless, this plan will overcome the barriers by improving medical care, supporting rehabilitation, leveraging government policies, and increasing awareness.

Improving Medical Care

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The disaster recovery plan aims at having improved care in all healthcare facilities, such that all health issues are dealt with holistically. As a matter of urgency, the community needs more hospital beds since the current ones are almost full. More hospital beds should be procured to increase capacity. In addition, the hospital will need to upgrade its infrastructure by renovation and build additional space for inpatient and outpatient services. The community needs new ambulances since the current new ones are old and possibly unreliable. Also, the plan has stipulated the need to build and expand the Valley City Homeless shelter, which is currently running at capacity, despite many people living as homeless. These interventions will ensure that everyone in the community has equal access to quality healthcare.

Mental and Rehab Center

The catastrophic derailment of an oil-tanker train leads to many people’s deaths and injuries, which has become a significant source of trauma. Such stresses necessitate robust mental healthcare inadequately provided in the Vila health community. Therefore, this plan focuses on establishing a fully equipped and staffed mental health center, where community members can access a social worker straightforward and get help. Besides, many community members live with injuries, which require therapies. Such can be done at the rehabilitation center. Also, since some minority races in the community are economically disadvantaged, they may use the rehab center as a temporary home as they work to get back on track with affording housing, transport, and other bills. The goal Is to ensure every community member is safe and healthy.

Government Policies

The government is a significant stakeholder in healthcare, and its policies can accelerate or delay the implementation of the disaster recovery plan. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people living with disabilities and ensures they have access to state and local government programs (ADA National Network, 2021). The Act will ensure all people living with disabilities in the Vila Health community access quality healthcare regardless of their diversities. Also, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act allows government intervention through resource provision, financial, logistical, and technical intervention to affected populations in times of disaster (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, 2013). Lastly, the Disaster Response Toolkit for Medicaid provides coverage to vulnerable populations affected by a disaster. Thus, ensuring everyone has access to and can afford quality healthcare.


Increasing Awareness

Lack of awareness is a critical hindrance to access quality healthcare. For instance, people living with disabilities lack access to quality healthcare since physicians are not aware of the needs of the patients, or patients are not aware of the channel’s healthcare and the resources at their disposal (Dassah et al., 2018). The current disaster recovery plan increases the interaction of healthcare practitioners with the local communities, increases awareness about the various health needs available, and creates community awareness about the availability of various healthcare services available. Notably, creating awareness requires effective communication to pass and obtain accurate data between community members and healthcare professionals.

Implementation Timeline

The disaster recovery plan should begin immediately after the catastrophic event and be complete in the shortest time possible. In less than one week, the director of Valley City Regional Hospital will mobilize relevant government and local community agencies and groups to join the recovery plan. In three weeks, healthcare professionals in the community should be trained and equipped to respond to the disaster, noting critical social issues such as cultural differences that might lead to discrimination. A communication plan will be launched within a month to access all community members, noting their health needs. Therefore, the hospital will have the data needed to implement a nondiscriminatory disaster response program within five weeks. The government shall have disbursed the financial, technical, and logistical aid needed to succeed in the plan in three months. This means the new changes in the disaster recovery plan should be implemented in six weeks.


In summary of this presentation, disasters in healthcare are situations that lead to emergencies and increased health risks. The catastrophic derailment of an oil-tanker train led to increased health needs in the Vila Health community since facilities such as Valley City Regional Hospital, and Valley City Homeless shelter have inadequate capacities. The disaster recovery plan faces barriers rooted in the social determinants of health, but they will be overcome using the MAP-IT framework. The plan involves improving medical care, mental healthcare, government policies, increasing awareness and will be complete in six weeks.


ADA National Network. (2021). What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?. Adata.org. Retrieved 5 December 2021, from https://adata.org/learn-about-ada.

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. (2013). Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act Fact Sheet | State Public Health | ASTHO. Astho.org. Retrieved 5 December 2021, from https://www.astho.org/programs/preparedness/public-health-emergency-law/emergency-authority-and-immunity-toolkit/robert-t–stafford-disaster-relief-and-emergency-assistance-act-fact-sheet/.

Dassah, E., Aldersey, H., McColl, M., & Davison, C. (2018). Factors affecting access to primary health care services for persons with disabilities in rural areas: a “best-fit” framework synthesis. Global Health Research And Policy3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41256-018-0091-x

Hansen, S., Kanning, M., Lauer, R., Steinacker, J., & Schlicht, W. (2017). MAP-IT: A Practical Tool for Planning Complex Behavior Modification Interventions. Health Promotion Practice18(5), 696-705. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524839917710454

Healthy People 2030. (2021). Social Determinants of Health – Healthy People 2030 | health.gov. Health.gov. Retrieved 4 December 2021, from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health.

“Program Planning”. (2021). Program Planning | Healthy People 2020. Healthypeople.gov. Retrieved 4 December 2021, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/tools-and-resources/Program-Planning.