An Assessment of the Resilience of Hospitals to Environmental Impacts in Los Angeles County
This study assesses the vulnerability of hospitals in Los Angeles County to environmental impacts, with the goal of providing guidance on how resiliency to these impacts could be built for hospitals across the LA basin. This study specifically focused the ability of LA hospitals to work collaboratively with other response agencies during disasters and the vulnerability of hospitals in Los Angeles to water outages and climate change. First, we performed a survey of hospitals across the United States to evaluate their current level of preparedness, partnerships with other agencies and best practices or barriers they experienced when coordinating during disasters. The results indicated that a top priority is to build tools that enable hospitals to feel connected to people in other organizations, but that does not entirely rely on an individual personal connection during a disaster. Second, we assessed the ability of Los Angeles hospitals to remain operational during a major water outage using their current stored water and rationing strategies. The results of the survey showed that hospitals in Los Angeles County are grossly under prepared to remain at full operational capacity during a water outage event. Nearly 95% hospitals responding to the survey did not have the recommended amount of water, and further analysis of the recommendations showed that even that amount of water did not reflect the demands of the hospital. Third, we assessed what the impact of climate change will be on hospitals in Los Angeles County. Impacts on hospitals related to extreme heat events, wildfires, sea level rise, allergies and asthma were considered. Although hospital infrastructure is expected to be at greater risk due to flooding and wildfires, the actual healthcare visit rate is anticipated to remain at levels that are within the current fluctuations seen during seasonal influenza.