Lebanon, an Eastern Mediterranean country, endured a lengthy 16-year civil war and perpetual subsequent political turmoil, which continually expose the country to governmental instability, man-made disasters and complex emergencies. Lebanon is prone to constant civil unrest and manmade disasters that could generate high influx of injured individuals requiring emergency care. More recently, the Syrian humanitarian crisis and the massive influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon since 2012 had further challenged the country’s emergency health care system and its readiness to efficiently cope with the growing emergency needs of the changing population. Consequently, the regional exposure to political instability and threat to public safety created an urgency to maintain an adequately prepared Hospital Emergency Preparedness Plan at hospitals across Lebanon to respond to disasters and crises and to cope with the increased need for trauma care nationally and regionally. As hospitals play a critical role in mitigating the long-term effect of humanitarian crises on the healthcare system, hospitals should adopt an emergency preparedness plan to respond with appropriate actions to reduce the impact of complex emergencies on local communities. The American College of Emergency Physicians defines Hospital Disaster Preparedness plan as the ‘healthcare system ability to manage sudden or rapidly progressing influx of patients within the currently available resources at a given point in time’. The American University of Beirut Medical Center and the American University of Beirut will jointly collaborate on this research study to develop and pilot test a Hospital Emergency and Disaster Preparedness (HEDP) tool. The HEDP tool will be adopted to systematically assess Lebanese hospitals level of emergency and disaster preparedness to deal with complex emergencies and humanitarian crises that transcend the capacity of a hospital to cope with emergency situations and disasters. The assessment will serve to generate reports documenting each hospital level of preparedness in an attempt to develop protocols that enhance national hospital preparedness to efficiently handle disasters and emergencies.
HEDP tool will be designed to include the following elements:
a. Hospital information: demographics, capacity, surge capacity
b. Preparedness: existing plan, mechanisms of activation, drills, trained personnel
c. Incident Command System: number of coordinators and roles, replacements, meeting area with a communication system
d. Communication: internal communication system and external communication with the Red Cross as well as government and non-governmental agencies
e. Management: resources, logistics, staff, facility, lab, blood bank, safety and security.
The HEDP tool checklist will be used to capture accurate data on hospitals’ existing resources and level of emergency preparedness. Data will be collected from hospitals across Lebanon meeting the inclusion criteria. On-site visit will complement the data collected process in order help verify accurate reporting and ensure that all elements of the assessment tool are completed. The compiled data will be used to generate individualized hospital preparedness reports and to develop hospital emergency protocols and plans.
Hospitals meeting the recruitment criteria (number of beds > 100) will be selected and included in this study. The research team will send invitation to participate and follow up with hospital administrators (i.e. director, Emergency preparedness coordinator) to coordinate interview meetings and on site visits to the hospitals.
The research team will consist of medical doctors or Subject Matter Experts. Training should be provided to the research team member who will be conducting the survey and on-site verification
Data will be collecting using the survey tool to inquire information about the hospital preparedness plan. Interview data and observation notes will be compiled and saved into a secured database.