Assessing Before It’s Too Late

The doctor who heads up the Department of Emergency Medicine for a not-for-profit academic medical center in a large U.S. city had a few questions on how well the center was prepared for an emergency on its own grounds.

Hillard Heintze’s Managing Director of Security couldn’t provide the Department head with a quick answer on such short notice. But over the course of the ensuing discussion, he raised a series of provocative issues that the administrator couldn’t answer. “Let’s just go forward with a careful, detailed assessment,” the head of the Department said. “We need this information. The results of this analysis will help us make better, more cost-effective decisions.”

Decade-Long Challenges: Time for a Strategic Solution

As Hillard Heintze began examining this Medical Center’s capabilities, it became clear that this 600-bed hospital and leading medical college confronted a unique set of challenges. These included (1) a decade-long project to build new facilities, renovate existing buildings and adopt state-of-the-art technologies; (2) on-campus housing for medical students; and (3) ongoing pursuit of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security designation as a Tier 2 Critical Infrastructure Key Resource (CIKR).

Over the next two weeks, Hillard Heintze tasked its experts with answer two strategic questions:

  1. Where did the greatest vulnerabilities lie within the Medical Center’s current emergency preparedness plans?
  2. What were the most strategic opportunities to improve the plans to remediate these vulnerabilities and bring the Medical Center’s emergency preparedness capabilities more closely in line with emerging best practices at other leading hospitals and major health centers worldwide?

Findings Provide Further Decision-Making

The findings of this assessment provided the head of the Center’s Emergency Medicine program with transparency on several issues central to decisions relating to personnel safety and security, asset preservation, capital utilization and prioritization and, ultimately, strategic risk management for the Center as a whole.

UNPLUGGED: The Project Manager’s Post- Engagement Perspective

“When you’re in the business of saving lives, there are a whole lot of actions and preparations that many well intentioned, and highly trained internal experts – and well-led departments – are doing right to advance this objective. Nowhere is this in greater evidence than in a major city medical center.

“And that strength can also be a terrific vulnerability. Saving lives under crisis conditions requires split-second decisions. Transparent escalation procedures for decisionmaking. Easy access to critical information. And the ability to cut through the fog of panic and confusion with a crisp decision-making system that has been refined tirelessly through planning, testing, table-topping.  That’s what matters. That’s what we help organizations address.”