What to expect at MD Anderson during a hurricane amid COVID-19
MD Anderson Staff
Last updated Aug. 25, 2021
At MD Anderson, the health and safety of our patients and employees is our top priority every day. That's why we plan and prepare for hurricanes and other significant weather events long before hurricane season begins. And this year, we’ve taken added precautions to protect our patients and employees from COVID-19 in the event of a hurricane.
So, what can you expect from MD Anderson if a tropical storm or hurricane seems likely to hit the Houston/Galveston area?
Here are 10 things to expect at MD Anderson during a hurricane or tropical storm, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anticipate scheduling changes. Before a storm’s expected landfall, MD Anderson begins shutting down certain services. This means clinic appointments, diagnostic tests and surgical procedures may be postponed, and some intensive treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, could be cancelled and rescheduled.
Expect limited access during lockdown. MD Anderson also goes into "lockdown" mode before a storm makes landfall. That means no one — not patients, caregivers or employees — will be able to enter or leave the facilities, so clinics will not be seeing patients, except virtually, in some cases. This is for everyone’s safety.
COVID-19 safety precautions remain in place. In the event of a "lockdown," our existing COVID-19 precautions and processes will remain in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Everyone who enters our campuses prior to the "lockdown" will be screened, and everyone will be asked to wear a medical-grade face mask and practice social distancing at all times. Learn more about our COVID-19 safety precautions.
Trust that inpatients are being well-cared for. Clinics identify key personnel in advance who can stay on location until the storm passes. These include nurses, physicians, pharmacists, radiologists, technologists, food service workers and other employees who support patient care. MD Anderson also has its own back-up generators and water supply to keep patients comfortable and critical equipment running. Fresh bottled water is provided for drinking.
Make alternate shelter arrangements for caregivers, loved ones. Due to both our COVID-19 visitor restrictions and limited resources such as back-up power, bottled water and food, MD Anderson will limit the number of caregivers boarding with patients at the hospital. We encourage patients who can travel to seek shelter outside of the affected area, if possible, and to bring all of their medications with them.
Make medical records portable. If patients require medical assistance from another care provider while MD Anderson is closed, it’s helpful to provide details about their illness, medications and treatment. That’s why we encourage all of our patients to set up a MyChart account. Our medical records are electronic, so patients can access them from anywhere in the world, provided they have an internet connection.
Develop a plan with your care center. Reach out to your care team in advance to find out how specific treatments or appointments might be affected, and how you can get back on track once the storm has passed.
Stay alert for updates. We keep local media well-informed of our status, so watch the news or listen to the radio to find out how weather is affecting MD Anderson. You can also check our Emergency Alert Information, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and log into MyChart for updates before, during and after any changes to our normal operations.
Remain calm if MD Anderson needs to evacuate. We pay a great deal of attention to our supporting infrastructure so that this doesn’t happen. But in the unlikely event that MD Anderson has to evacuate, we will work with the Texas Medical Center and Harris County emergency teams to move our patients and staff to another location.
Expect us to reopen when it’s safe. Once the immediate danger has passed, MD Anderson takes steps to begin serving patients again right away at our Texas Medical Center Campus. After high water recedes and the Texas Medical Center’s flood gates are reopened, MD Anderson services resume in stages. Each of our Houston locations may be impacted in different ways, so our different locations may open on different timelines, depending on when it is safe to do so. Your care team will reach out about rescheduling any cancelled appointments as quickly as possible so that our patients can get the care they need.