HHS Selects Pilot Projects to Show Better Path to Disaster Medical Care

Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, Neb., and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston received $3 million grants from ASPR's Hospital Preparedness Program to conduct pilot projects that show the potential effectiveness and viability of a Regional Disaster Health Response System.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response recently awarded two $3 million grants to demonstrate how a new Regional Disaster Health Response System could meet the health needs of the thousands of Americans affected by a disaster, including trauma, burn, or other specialty care.

Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, Neb., and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston received the grants from ASPR's Hospital Preparedness Program to conduct pilot projects that show the potential effectiveness and viability of a Regional Disaster Health Response System.

"Our nation faces real and serious threats that represent a looming risk to health care delivery," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec. "This system offers a powerful way to form alliances and build specialized capabilities that save more lives in overwhelming, catastrophic emergencies. The system draws on the existing U.S. health care infrastructure, pulling together private sector and federal resources in a way that has never been done. I encourage all health care delivery facilities and providers to get involved."

The Regional Disaster Health Response System will build on local health care coalitions and trauma centers, creating a tiered system of disaster care. The system will integrate local medical response capabilities with emergency medical services, burn centers, pediatric hospitals, labs, and outpatient services.

HHS notes more than 31,000 health care organizations participate in health care coalitions nationwide that are funded by the Hospital Preparedness Program. Coalitions create partnerships among health care facilities and providers in communities, primarily from the private sector, to prepare for disasters and respond.

In demonstrating a Regional Disaster Health Response System, each pilot project must:

  • build a partnership for disaster health response to support clinical specialty care
  • align plans, policies, and procedures for clinical excellence in disasters
  • increase statewide and regional medical surge capacity
  • improve statewide and regional situational awareness, such as the availability of hospital beds
  • develop metrics and test the regional system's capabilities

Nebraska Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital were selected from among 19 applicants nationwide by a panel of experts from professional associations, academia, and federal agencies.

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