By their very nature both man-made and natural disasters are unpredictable, and so we recommend that all health-care institutions be prepared. In this paper, the authors describe and make a number of recommendations, regarding the importance of crisis and turnaround management using as a model the New Orleans public health system and Tulane University Medical School post-Hurricane Katrina. Leadership skills, articulation of vision, nimble decision making, and teamwork are all crucial elements of a successful recovery from disaster. The leadership team demonstrated courage, integrity, entrepreneurship, and vision. As a result, it led to a different approach to public health and the introduction of new and innovative medical education and research programs.
In the Dean’s initial message to the Tulane community, he wanted to give a sense of purpose and pride and to encourage entrepreneurship. The key points he made were:
- We will help to build a different health-care system, not rebuild.
- The time to act is now. No more consultants or “strategic planning.”
- Turn adversity into opportunity.
- The door to the Dean’s office is always open. All are welcome to come to discuss problems with their recommended solutions.
Sometimes it takes a disaster to remove silos and create a new vision. Based on our experience, the following are our key recommendations:
- Understand the culture:
- Build a strong leadership team:
- Have a recovery plan, but be prepared to adapt based on local conditions:
- Vision alone is insufficient:
- Manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
- Lead by example.