Hospital Preparedness, Mitigation, and Response to Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, Texas.
OBJECTIVE: This case study documents Harris County hospitals' flood preparedness and mitigation efforts before Hurricane Harvey, their collective response experience during Hurricane Harvey, and their lessons learned in the storm's aftermath. METHODS: The case study was constructed using a survey of hospital emergency managers, semi-structured interviews with local agencies involved in public health, emergency management, and health care, and an analysis of news reports and other documents from a variety of government agencies, local organizations, and hospitals themselves. RESULTS: Harris County hospitals learned their most valuable lessons through their direct and repeated experience with flooding over the years, leading to improved preparedness before Hurricane Harvey. Hospital emergency response successes included infrastructure improvements, staff resilience, advanced planning, and pre-established collaboration. However, hospitals still experienced challenges with staff burnout, roadway flooding, and patient evacuation. CONCLUSIONS: Although the current state of hospital flood preparedness and mitigation is rather advanced and mature, it is advisable that Harris County takes steps to strengthen emergency management efforts in hospitals with fewer financial and staffing resources and less direct flood experience.