Emergency Preparedness Guidance for Religious Non-medical Health Care Institutions (RNHCI)
Statutory and regulatory citations for RNHCIs—section 1821 of the Social Security Act and 42 CFR 403.700 through 403.756.
The RNHCI must develop and maintain an emergency preparedness plan that must be reviewed, and updated at least annually. The plan must do all of the following:
- Be based on and include a documented, facility-based and community-based risk assessment, utilizing an all-hazards approach.
- Include strategies for addressing emergency events identified by the risk assessment.
- Address patient population, including, but not limited to, persons at-risk; the type of services the RNHCI has the ability to provide in an emergency; and, continuity of operations, including delegations of authority and succession plans.
- Include a process for cooperation and collaboration with local, tribal, regional, State, and Federal emergency preparedness officials' efforts to maintain an integrated response during a disaster or emergency situation, including documentation of the RNHCI's efforts to contact such officials and, when applicable, of its participation in collaborative and cooperative planning efforts.
Policies and procedures
The RNHCI must develop and implement emergency preparedness policies and procedures, based on the emergency plan set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, risk assessment at paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and the communication plan at paragraph (c) of this section. The policies and procedures must be reviewed and updated at least annually. At a minimum, the policies and procedures must address the following:
- The provision of subsistence needs for staff and patients, whether they evacuate or shelter in place, include, but are not limited to the following:
- Food, water, and supplies.
- Alternate sources of energy to maintain the following:
- Temperatures to protect patient health and safety and for the safe and sanitary storage of provisions.
- Emergency lighting.
- Fire detection, extinguishing, and alarm systems.
- Sewage and waste disposal.
- A system to track the location of on-duty staff and sheltered patients in the RNHCI's care during an emergency. If on-duty staff and sheltered patients are relocated during the emergency, the RNCHI must document the specific name and location of the receiving facility or other location.
- Safe evacuation from the RNHCI, which includes the following:
- Consideration of care needs of evacuees.
- Staff responsibilities.
- Identification of evacuation location(s).
- Primary and alternate means of communication with external sources of assistance.
- A means to shelter in place for patients, staff, and volunteers who remain in the facility.
- A system of care documentation that does the following:
- Preserves patient information.
- Protects confidentiality of patient information.
- Secures and maintains the availability of records.
- The use of volunteers in an emergency and other emergency staffing strategies to address surge needs during an emergency.
- The development of arrangements with other RNHCIs and other providers to receive patients in the event of limitations or cessation of operations to maintain the continuity of nonmedical services to RNHCI patients.
- The role of the RNHCI under a waiver declared by the Secretary, in accordance with section 1135 of Act, in the provision of care at an alternate care site identified by emergency management officials.
The RNHCI must develop and maintain an emergency preparedness communication plan that complies with Federal, State, and local laws and must be reviewed and updated at least annually. The communication plan must include all of the following:
- Names and contact information for the following:
- Entities providing services under arrangement.
- Next of kin, guardian or custodian.
- Other RNHCIs.
- Contact information for the following:
- Federal, State, tribal, regional, and local emergency preparedness staff.
- Other sources of assistance.
- Primary and alternate means for communicating with the following:
- RNHCI's staff.
- Federal, State, tribal, regional, and local emergency management agencies.
- A method for sharing information and care documentation for patients under the RNHCI's care, as necessary, with care providers to maintain the continuity of care, based on the written election statement made by the patient or his or her legal representative.
- A means, in the event of an evacuation, to release patient information as permitted under 45 CFR 164.510(b)(1)(ii).
- A means of providing information about the general condition and location of patients under the facility's care as permitted under 45 CFR 164.510(b)(4).
- A means of providing information about the RNHCI's occupancy, needs, and its ability to provide assistance, to the authority having jurisdiction, the Incident Command Center, or designee.
Training and testing
The RNHCI must develop and maintain an emergency preparedness training and testing program that is based on the emergency plan set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, risk assessment at paragraph (a)(1) of this section, policies and procedures at paragraph (b) of this section, and the communication plan at paragraph (c) of this section. The training and testing program must be reviewed and updated at least annually.
- Training program. The RNHCI must do all of the following:
- Initial training in emergency preparedness policies and procedures to all new and existing staff, individuals providing services under arrangement, and volunteers, consistent with their expected roles.
- Provide emergency preparedness training at least annually.
- Maintain documentation of all emergency preparedness training.
- Demonstrate staff knowledge of emergency procedures.
- Testing. The RNHCI must conduct exercises to test the emergency plan. The RNHCI must do the following:
- Conduct a paper-based, tabletop exercise at least annually. A tabletop exercise is a group discussion led by a facilitator, using a narrated, clinically-relevant emergency scenario, and a set of problem statements, directed messages, or prepared questions designed to challenge an emergency plan.
- Analyze the RNHCI's response to and maintain documentation of all tabletop exercises, and emergency events, and revise the RNHCI's emergency plan, as needed.