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Bring it! Hospital Incident Command Team ensures YNHH is ready for anything


Members of YNHH’s Hospital Incident Command Team

In February, clinicians learned that a patient with measles had been at Yale New Haven Hospital before realizing they had the highly contagious viral infection. 

The Hospital Incident Command Team was activated and within hours, developed and implemented a plan to identify, protect, treat and prepare for any other patients and hospital staff who might have been exposed. Fortunately no one else contracted measles. 

Infectious disease, snowstorms, hospital floods, loss of power – these are just a few examples of events the team has responded to this past year. The team includes medical providers and leaders from various clinical and non-clinical departments.

“The team’s aim is to effectively prepare for and handle issues arising from a wide array of events large and small, while ensuring the hospital continues to provide safe, high-quality care and operate efficiently,” said Michael Holmes, senior vice president, Operations, and Hospital Incident Command Team incident commander.

The type, size and scope of the event determines who gets involved. For example, some of the many departments responding to the measles event were Protective Services, which helped determine where in the hospital the patient had been before displaying symptoms; Information Technology Services, which helped identify which patients and staff might have been exposed; Infection Prevention and the Hospital Incident Command Planning and Operations section, which established a call center to answer questions from former patients and the community; and Occupational Health, which set up a clinic to test or vaccinate employees who might have been exposed. 

For larger events, like the measles and a mold situation in one of the York Street Campus pavilions last year, the Hospital Incident Command Team may work out of the Emergency Operations Center. However, about 80 percent of events are handled virtually, said April Alfano, YNHH manager of Disaster Preparedness and Response. For a water leak that affects a few patient rooms on a unit, the team can virtually coordinate Facilities, Environmental Services, Infection Prevention and other areas that need to respond.

“In the past, The Hospital Incident Command Team was involved only in larger events,” Alfano said. “Now we get involved in many more types of situations because we’ve found that if we can manage the smaller ones, we’re better prepared for large events.”

Here’s how you can help with disaster preparedness and response

  • Clinical services staff interested in being disaster liaisons, or non-clinical employees who want to join the evacuation team may contact April Alfano, [email protected], to learn more about the roles.
  • If you have an event in your area that affects your operations, contact the administrator on call during business hours or the off-shift executive during non-business hours. They will coordinate with the Hospital Incident Command Team when necessary.
  • Certain designated managers and staff members should promptly complete online disaster status reporting when notified.
  • Watch for more information about new “plain-language” codes and a Disaster Preparedness and Response intranet section.