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Disasters and emergencies are increasing in prevalence and impact, and the Brisbane south region has a relatively high level of exposure to extreme weather events. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and lessons from the 2019 – 20 bushfires, it is now more important than ever for the primary health sector to plan and be ready for the impact of disasters on practices and their patients.
Brisbane South PHN is working closely with our relevant Local Disaster Management Groups and Metro South Health Emergency Operations Centre to actively support their disaster management responsibilities by coordinating with and for primary health providers at the local level.
Disaster management and business continuity planning
We are currently updating our disaster management plan and business continuity plan and particularly encourage general practices and community pharmacies to do the same before the end of 2020 so that they are prepared, well stocked and best-positioned to respond to crises and the health needs of their communities.
Disaster management and business continuity planning resources
- RACGP – Managing emergencies and pandemics and Managing emergencies in general practice guide
- SpotOnHealth HealthPathways – COVID-19 Practice Management
- Pharmacy Guild of Australia – Pandemic planning and guidelines
- Australian Government – How to prepare an emergency management plan
- Queensland Government – Preparing your business for natural disasters and Business continuity planning
- Brisbane City Council – Prepare your business for severe weather
- Australian Business Continuity – free online services, advice and tools available during COVID-19.
Disaster management considerations
Mitigation and preparedness
- Develop and maintain an up-to-date emergency response plan
- Exercise your plan on a regular basis
- Contact other practices in your local area and agree on how you can offer mutual support
- Have a plan in place to send communications to patients about service disruptions or changes.
- Update medication lists and health care plans – with consideration to impacts of compounding disasters (e.g. pandemic x floods)
- Have a system in place to routinely capture and confirm every patient’s current contact details
- Ensure that patients with a My Health Record have current information recorded and an up to date shared health summary where appropriate
- Take steps to encourage patients to have an in-person appointment to ensure continued telehealth eligibility.
Response during a disaster
- Consider extending opening hours to accommodate an increase in patient demand
- Communicate to patients any changes to access or open hours and/or reinforce continued access
- Regularly visit and follow alert and warning updates sites (examples listed below)
Recovery from a disaster
- Review and identify lessons
- Communicate with patients about return to normal business hours
- Identify community population health needs post disaster and develop campaigns to address emerging needs e.g. focus on mental health assessments
- Identify and reach out to patients with increased vulnerability factors
- Connect with and refer to local social and community support agencies.
Alerts and warnings:
- Bureau of Meteorology Queensland Warnings
- Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
- Queensland Government Warnings and Emergency Alerts
- Logan Early Warning and Disaster Dashboard
- Redlands Alerts and Warnings and Disaster Dashboard
- Brisbane Early Warning Alert Service
- Scenic Rim Disaster Management Facebook page and Disaster Dashboard
- ABC local radio and frequency finder
Local Government Areas disaster management resources:
- Logan City Council – Disaster and Emergency
- Redland City Council – Disasters and Emergencies
- Brisbane City Council – Disasters and Emergencies
- Scenic Rim Regional Council – Disaster Management
Queensland Health disaster management resources:
- Queensland Health’s role in a disaster or emergency incident, including incident plans and hazard-specific sub-plans
- Public health advice for disaster management, including evacuation centre guidelines, health information and fact sheets
- Resources to support disaster resilience for children.