By Jo Miller, MPH, RDN
Vice President of Nutrition at Meals for All, Inc.
Many healthcare facilities nationwide — and worldwide — have recently acknowledged a sobering fact: they were not prepared for the impact of COVID-19 on their staff and communities. When performing Hazard Vulnerability Analyses (HVA), it’s understandable that most facilities identified severe weather, fire, earthquakes, and other common natural disasters as the most likely hazards to affect their operations. However, operations now realize an all-hazards approach to risk assessment really does mean all hazards – pandemics included.
Data shows post-disaster exacerbation of many health conditions and increased mortality and morbidity. A contributing factor is delivery of the therapeutic dietary care disaster victims needed. COVID-19 is no exception. Proper nutrition and easily implemented emergency meal plans can and do save lives, but nutrition is the often-forgotten pillar during a disaster. (Read the ASPR TRACIE interview with Lee Tincher, MS, RDN and Jo Miller, MPH, RDN, “Nutrition and Meal Plans: An Often Neglected Pillar of Healthcare Emergency Planning.”) Not only is proper nutrition important for those with existing health conditions, but also for those on the front line keeping patients alive.
While staffing during such an unprecedented, worldwide pandemic can be chaotic, food preparation during this time shouldn’t be. When facilities are short-staffed due to a number of factors, Meals for All is the ideal emergency meal solution. No previous training or experience is needed to prepare Meals for All, and our nutritious meals can be prepared quickly and easily by any available volunteer or facility staff member.
Nobody can predict with 100% accuracy when the COVID-19 crisis will pass. It’s imperative that healthcare facilities prepare for the long term and evaluate their emergency meal plan. Many facilities have moved from thinking a 3-day supply for staff and surge is adequate, to realizing a 7-14 day supply is necessary, plus consideration for a surge in patients.
Meals for All helps ensure your facility can support its patients and staff with our shelf stable meals, enhancing the efficiency of your staff while also fulfilling a regulatory requirement. Meals for All is a long-term asset with a ten-year shelf life, which improves survey compliance and emergency readiness. Meals for All investments may be capitalized, rather than expensed, allowing depreciation over the ten-year life of the product. We understand that cost is always a factor, so ask yourself:
* Has your facility received funding for COVID-19 relief?
* Has your facility reevaluated its emergency preparedness budget?
* Can your facility continue to provide nutritious meals with limited staffing using its current emergency food supply?
COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects on communities, patients, and staff worldwide. Our Meals for All consultants can help you plan to be better prepared for future emergencies — pandemics included.