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Bad weather can hit in time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Bad weather can hit any time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Have you been caught in turbulent weather: Possible tornadoes like the tragedy that happened in Moore Oklahoma; April blizzards in the Dakotas. So far it’s been anything but “spring-like.” To top it all off, experts are saying the upcoming hurricane season could be worse than last year. One scientist even said watch out for Super Storm Sandy 2.0!

As healthcare travelers, you very well could find yourself assigned to any of the states that repeatedly get battered by hurricanes. Or you could be on contract in one of the 45 states and U.S. territories labeled as “moderate to very high risk” of earthquakes. Remember the 5.8 quake that struck Washington, D.C. back in 2011?

So what if you happen to be assigned to an area that falls victim to Mother Nature’s whim; would you know how to react? Do you have the emergency supplies readied?

The following are a few essentials to keep on hand and advice on how to stay safe as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign (ready.gov).

THE BASICS
• Extra prescription meds and eyeglasses along with first-aid supplies.
• Water, nonperishable food, and pet food for three days. Remember dietary requirements for both you and your animals. Tip: Avoid salty foods.
• Keep copies of pertinent documents—insurance policies, identification, medication list, allergy list, and bank accounts—in a waterproof container.
• Paper towels, plates, and plastic cups and utensils. Oh yeah, and a manual can opener so you can get to the food.
• Change of clothes, including cold/hot weather attire. Also, stash an extra blanket.
• Battery powered or hand-crank radio and cell phone charger. Don’t forget extra batteries.
• Refresh the kit every few months. Tip: When it’s time to change the clocks, it’s time to change supplies.

EARTHQUAKE EXPECTATIONS
• Keep a pair of durable shoes and a flashlight near your bed.
• Stay inside and find cover from falling objects.
• Ask the hospital where you are assigned about its earthquake response plan.
• If the shaking starts while you’re driving, park in a clear area. Avoid bridges, overpasses, ramps, and of course, power lines.
• Don’t expect to be one and done. Aftershocks can follow for days, even weeks, after the initial rattler. Make no mistake, aftershocks are still earthquakes and should be treated as such.

HURRICANE HOW-TOS
• Tune into a NOAA Weather Radio (noaawatch.gov) for real-time updates from the National Weather Service.
• Bring in outdoor plants or furniture that could be tossed around by winds.
• Turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. In the case of power outages, your food will stay colder longer.
• Fill up your gas tank.

TORNADO THOUGHTS
• Find a safe location, like a basement, storm cellar, interior room, or hallway.
• If in a car, keep your seatbelt on, duck below the windows, and cover your head.

Predicting Mother Nature’s next move is a fool’s game, but it never hurts to be prepared wherever you are assigned.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Speculation about which way the Supreme Court would rule regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended Thursday morning when the high court ruled the reform law constitutional.

In a 5 to 4 vote, the high court also clarified that while the Medicaid expansion is constitutional, the federal government cannot withhold existing Medicaid funds from states for non-compliance with the President Obama-championed ACA.

The goal of ACA is that healthcare coverage will be extended to about 32 million people, a goal to be achieved through new mandates for individuals and employers, subsidies for people who can’t afford coverage on their own, consumer-friendly rules clamped on insurers, tax breaks, and marketplaces to shop for health plans.

That was the objective the ACA launched, and now that the law has been upheld, stake holders like Randy Holloran, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Cirrus Medical Staffing, sees the ruling as a positive decision for the healthcare traveling industry. In the simplest terms, he says, more insured Americans will create a demand for healthcare services, spurring a demand for temporary healthcare staffing.

“This means there will be more people with insurance, more people getting medical procedures,” he says. “Ultimately, this will put a bigger strain on supply (of qualified clinicians).”

Cirrus provides staffing services for nursing and allied health travelers including physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists.

Within the majority, the five justices agreed that the penalty someone must pay if one refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power on.

The ACA’s most far-reaching changes don’t kick in until 2014, including a requirement that most Americans carry health insurance — whether through an employer, a government program or their own purchase — or pay a fine. That will require tax credits to help cover the cost of premiums. Medicaid also will be expanded to cover more low-income people.

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