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Succession planning: A long-term safety essential for facility managers

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December 1, 2017

Don't let the most knowledgeable person on your team become a single point of failure

For three days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005, Children's Hospital New Orleans stayed open, providing continuous care for its tiny patients, with about half its normal staff. The call to evacuate came only after breached levees unleashed flooding and chaos in much of the city, prompting hospital personnel to evacuate 103 children to nine different destinations.

"With no city, state, or federal assistance, we did it in under 22 hours—and I had to know that that building was going to perform," says Cindy Nuesslein, RN, MBA, FACHE, an independent consultant who was vice president of hospital operations at the time. "It's a remarkable experience to have been through, but it also gives you a very different level of appreciation for what a solid facility manager and a great facility team can do."

Had it not been for the well-prepared and highly qualified facility team, the mid-crisis evacuation could have been far less successful, with real and immediate consequences for the safety of patients and staff. That's why it's absolutely vital that healthcare organizations think about who will manage a facility not just in the day-to-day but over the long term as well. A commitment to succession planning will help ensure that your team can keep up with the complexities of modern facilities management and respond appropriately, even when one disaster cascades into the next.



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