Patricia Farris, M.D., shares her experience rebuilding her business after a hurricane. Here’s what she learned.
When Patricia Farris, M.D., pulled her car into the parking lot of her dermatology practice in Metairie, La., she shook her head in despair and parked next to pieces of the building’s roof.
Dr. FarrisIt was early September 2005, and Hurricane Katrina had hit the New Orleans suburb hard. The second-floor roof of Old Metairie Dermatology, the practice Dr. Farris had operated since 1975, was now a giant hole. “This is going to be bad,” she remembers thinking. “We weren’t as prepared as we should have been.”
She walked inside to assess the damage, and bad news was everywhere. Pipes broken. Water in the laser printer. Ruined bottles of Botox and filler. Patient records scattered. The smell of mold.
Suddenly, the phone rang. “Our land line works?”
It was a nervous patient awaiting her biopsy report. The patient had evacuated to Florida and was calling to see if the result was ready. Dr. Farris located the patient’s soggy record and connected with her pathologist. The news was bad - positive for melanoma - but the patient appreciated knowing and soon was treated.
“Here’s the scary thing,” Dr. Farris says. “If she would have called during any other 15-minute period, I wouldn’t have known she was in Florida. I wouldn’t have been able to find her. We were extremely lucky for that call, but so many other aspects of our business were affected.”
Old Metairie Dermatology essentially shut down for seven months. “I realize now, some could have been prevented.”
RELATED: A checklist for emergency preparedness
According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, 25% of companies are unable to resume operations after a major disaster. But don’t let Mother Nature catch your business off-guard. While some dermatologists will be rebuilding from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Dr. Farris shares some tips that may help them and others before the next hurricane comes knocking (well, through) your door. Here are some action steps to take now:
At Old Metairie Dermatology, disaster and patience eventually gave way to advancement and patients. Today, from the same location that was affected by Katrina, the practice focuses on integrative medicine, and offers the latest in general and cosmetic dermatology for clients experiencing a wide range of skin conditions.
“We learned our lesson,” Dr. Farris says. “I can’t say this strongly enough - a little planning can make the difference between staying in business and losing everything.”