Posted in Issue 113 - May 2010 New ToolsBased on the experience gained with the hospital safety index (HSI) in hospitals, a new assessment tool has been developed by PAHO for less complex health facilities, including primary care hospitals providing basic specialties (obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, internal medicine, and general surgery), hospitals with less than 20 beds or without inpatient services, health centers, polyclinics, clinics, etc.
The guide outlines the most common risks for health facilities of medium and low complexity. It is designed to ensure that a facility will be able to continue providing services after an adverse event. It identifies the most important structural, nonstructural, and functional vulnerabilities and addresses interventions needed to increase a facility’s safety. It has been prepared for the reality of Latin America, and users are encouraged to adapt the contents according to the situation in their country.
The guide is structured on the same pattern as its older brother, the hospital safety index.
- Issues related to geographic location. It allows rapid characterization of hazards a facility is exposed to, including its location and type of terrain.
- Structural aspects. It aids in assessing facility safety in terms of the type of structure, materials used, and its history of exposure to natural and other types of hazards.
- Non-structural aspects. It facilitates the analysis of the safety of non-structural elements of a health facility, including lifelines, equipment, architectural elements, access roads, and circulation inside and outside of the facility.
- Functional aspects. It guides assessment of an institution’s organization, how plans and preparedness programs for disaster and emergency response are implemented, what resources are available, the level of training of its personnel, as well as priority services that provide for the facility’s operation.
Authorities of the facility can use the information provided by the assessment to develop strategies for intervention. These strategies prioritize necessary actions according to their importance, time needed to carry them out, and resources needed.
The first response after a disaster almost always occurs at the local level. For that reason, we hope that this new tool will help to improve safety and operational capabilities of the smaller facilities that play a key role in emergencies and disasters.