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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ASPR’s New Vision for a Regional Disaster Health Care System Will Help Prepare Nation for 21st Century Health Security Threats

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 2/15/2018 5:45:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Early this week, I had the opportunity to discuss with colleagues at the University of Maryland Medical Center-Shock Trauma the concept of a regional disaster health care system that is capable of responding more effectively and efficiently to the ever-increasing array of 21st century health security threats.

  Read more…

“One Team. One Mission. A Lot of Perseverance and Ingenuity” Keeps One HHS Hurricane Recovery Specialist Focused and Motivated to Serve

Author: C. Kaleinani Lau, MPH, Recovery Coordination Analyst, HSS RSF, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Public Health Analyst, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care
Published Date: 2/13/2018 11:47:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Greetings from Puerto Rico! I arrived on the island more than two months ago – my first deployment as part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Health and Social Services (HSS) Recovery Support Function (RSF) team. The team consists of experts from different agencies within HHS working together for a common purpose: to restore and improve Puerto Rico’s health and social services. Being here is inspiring, and I am glad I have the opportunity to serve on this mission.

Working To  Read more…

Recovering from a Major Disaster is a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Lessons Learned from One Texas Family

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/9/2018 4:50:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Disasters upend the lives of countless families – they not only destroy homes, businesses, schools, and roads, but they also can throw disaster survivor’s lives into chaos. Local leaders are suddenly confronted with decisions on a scale they’ve never encountered before and families must quickly learn how to support themselves and those who rely on them.

When homes are destroyed and the systems that people depend on every day – from water and sewer to roads and schools – are not functioning, it can be difficult if not impossible for some people to recover. When community and  Read more…

Inside the Texas Catastrophic Medical Operations Center: An Interview with Lori Upton

Author: by Lori Upton, RN, BSN, MS, CEM, Director of Preparedness, Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.
Published Date: 1/31/2018 10:30:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

During Hurricane Harvey, SETRAC’s Catastrophic Medical Operations Center, or CMOC, acted as a clearinghouse – overseeing information management, brokering requests for assistance and supplies, coordinating patient movement, and providing situational awareness across emergency response disciplines. We spoke with Upton to learn more about the CMOC’s structure and day-to-day functions.

Q: How many members are in the Catastrophic Medical Operations Center?
A: A fully staffed CMOC has 13 members. During Harvey we expanded the CMOC to   Read more…

Responding to Harvey: How a Houston-area Healthcare Coalition Modeled Success

Author: Dan Hanfling, Special Advisor, Hospital Preparedness Program, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/31/2018 10:28:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

On Aug. 27, 2017, at the height of Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic winds and rain, a 54-year-old man with a serious head injury arrived at the Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Hospital Emergency Department in Houston, Texas. As a Level III trauma center, the hospital needed additional personnel and resources to treat the man; he needed to be transported to a Level I trauma center for neurosurgery.

Hospital officials asked for transport assistance, but the weather conditions were so severe that roads were impassable and helicopter transports were grounded. A col  Read more…

What Happens Next? Federal, State & Local Partners Work Together to Identify and Address Public Health and Social Services Needs in Texas following Hurricane Harvey

Author: CDR Betty Hastings,Texas Federal Health and Social Services Recovery Field Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 12/26/2017 12:27:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

The response to Hurricane Harvey was rapid and robust. In the days and weeks after the storm, over 1,000 public health and medical responders deployed to protect residents’ health and save lives. HHS worked alongside state agencies, disaster relief organizations and other federal partners as part of the response.

But what happens now?  How can communities across Texas recover?

To answer these questions, state and local health and human services officials needed more information and a better understanding of the health and social services needs cre  Read more…

Keeping Facilities Open: Stabilizing and Restoring Puerto Rico’s Health Sector Following the Island’s Worst Hurricane Season Ever

Author: Laura Wolf and Steve Curren, Division of Resilience, Office of Emergency Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, HHS
Published Date: 12/14/2017 10:38:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) immediately deployed thousands of staff members and health care providers to Puerto Rico. Almost daily, the national media highlighted work HHS Disaster Medical Assistance Teams did to save lives. Less known are the activities and programs HHS put in place that went beyond direct patient care. Hundreds of personnel, from logistics experts to security personnel, worked behind the scenes to help restore Puerto Rico’s health sector. Their mission: to assist local hospitals, dialysis facilities,   Read more…

Filling the Gaps: Planning for the Disaster Health Needs of Patients Taking Opioids and People Using Illicit Drugs

Author: Rachel Kaul, Senior Policy Analyst, ASPR Office for At-Risk individuals, Behavioral Health and Community Resilience, and Frankie Catalfumo, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst with Aveshka, Inc. in support of the ASPR Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 12/1/2017 10:17:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

When a disaster strikes public health and medical responders need to be ready to treat recreational users of opioids who are suffering from withdrawal, opioid patients who are in recovery, and patients who rely on opioids for pain management. Public health and health care professionals need to include the management of issues related to opioid use and addiction as part of their overall disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans.

Amid this year’s historic hurricane season, for example, some of the health care facilities, including opioid treatment centers, in the impa  Read more…

BARDA Supports a Rapid, Deployable, Sensitive Diagnostic Platform to Diagnose Anthrax

Author: HHS/ASPR Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
Published Date: 11/20/2017 1:55:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; Public Health Preparedness;

In the wake of an anthrax attack, medical responders need to quickly determine who has been infected so that they can be effectively treated. A rapid, accurate diagnostic test is an essential tool for doctors and other health professionals to effectively triage people who may be infected with anthrax. Such a tool has been long requested by medical responders as a critical component of anthrax preparedness.

On September 27, 2017, BARDA awarded a $3,199,221 base period of a contract to Tangen BioSciences Inc. of Branford, CT to further advance and expand the ability to combat  Read more…

Local Students, DJ Help NDMS Connect and Communicate with Puerto Rico Communities

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 11/3/2017 5:57:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

In Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Hima-San Pablo Fajardo Hospital was severely damaged due to Hurricane Maria. Power was lost and the primary and acute care needs of patients in and around the community were not being met. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services immediately deployed several Disaster Medical Assistant Teams (DMAT) from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to the area. Setting up tents just outside HIMA-San Pablo Fajardo Hospital, the nurses, physicians, paramedics, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals immediately began providing services. Read more…

The Needs after A Disaster Are Many: Alabama DMAT Jumps into Action, Responding to Half Dozen Missions During 20 Day Deployment

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 11/3/2017 4:12:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

On September 27, a team of Gulf Coast medical personnel deployed to Puerto Rico as members of the National Disaster Medical System’s (NDMS) Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). Although DMATs typically deploy for 14 days, the Alabama 3 DMAT stayed in Puerto Rico for 20 days and carried out a half dozen missions. The extended deployment saved many lives and forever changed the lives of those who received the care and those providing it.

Upon arrival, DMAT AL 3 was assigned to Ryder Memorial Hospital in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Their task was to set up a temporary medical si  Read more…

With Help from HHS More than 6,000 Dialysis Patients Get Life-Saving Treatment after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Published Date: 10/31/2017 9:57:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Local Paramedic’s First Deployment is to Help Family, Friends, & Neighbors After Hurricane Maria: Now He Says, “I’m NDMS for Life!”

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/31/2017 5:06:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Rafael Baucage has lived his entire life in Aguadilla, a community of 60,000 on the west coast of Puerto Rico that, before Hurricane Maria, was best known for its beautiful beaches and its very popular Parque Acuático Las Cascadas, the only aquatic theme park in the Caribbean.

Post Hurricane Maria, his beloved community is in shambles. Rafael’s’ home was located in the middle of the hardest hit area in Aguadilla. More than three feet of water seeped through the walls of his home, which he shares with his wife Maria and their 15-year-old twins.

On September 22, two day  Read more…

Dedication and Deployment: A Couple Chooses to Serve with NDMS

Author: Susan Wyatt
Published Date: 10/26/2017 5:18:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Ever since we were fifteen, Don and I have loved to do things together. We even deploy together with the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).

Providing care and restoring health services in Puerto Rico

Author: Robert Kadlec, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 10/19/2017 5:16:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

October 20 marks thirty days since Hurricane Maria barreled through Puerto Rico, stripping the lush forests of their leaves, limbs, and even bark and toppling utility poles like fallen dominoes in a line. Pictures can’t do justice to the damage. The devastation looked much like a war zone. Federal, territory and private sector partners steadily are making progress in restoring healthcare services to the island after the destruction wrought by the storm.

Initially, 100 percent of the island was without electrical power. Today, roughly 17 percent of the island has power and ma  Read more…

Scripts, Surge and Success: How One NDMS Pharmacist Helped Puerto Rican Pharmacists Provide Emergency Prescription Assistance

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/19/2017 12:13:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

When a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from South Carolina began seeing patients in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, it didn’t take long for the team members to realize that patients weren’t getting the lifesaving prescriptions they rely on to stay healthy every day or to fight infections in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

  Read more…

Open and Operational: NDMS Sets up Temporary Hospital to Provide Patient Care in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Author: HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/18/2017 1:32:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

The halls of Hospital Buen Samaritano Calle Jose de Diego Aguadilla in Puerto Rico are quiet. The hospital was severely damaged during Hurricane Maria and only a few patients remain in the facility. However, there are still people in Aguadilla who need to be treated for everything from chronic conditions to the infections and injuries that are common in the wake of disasters.
  Read more…

From Cut-Off to Connected: HHS and the U.S. Army Work together to protect health in Utuado, Puerto Rico following a landslide

Author: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 10/7/2017 10:32:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

A small community near the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico has been hit by back-to-back disasters. First came Hurricane Irma, then Hurricane Maria, and then came the landslides that cut the community off from the rest of Puerto Rico. The 39 families who live there had no way to reach the outside. They were left without power or access to medical care.

Puerto Rican medical providers were worried. Nobody had heard from these people and there wasn’t a good way to reach them. The Puerto Rican medical providers, who were already working with partners from HHS and the U.S. Army, s  Read more…

Rapid Assessment Tools for Responders to Address Needs of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness during Disasters

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals, ASPR’s Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 9/19/2017 1:17:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

Natural disasters and emergencies – such as hurricanes, flooding and other extreme weather conditions – create challenges and significantly impact communities. The recent destruction and devastation caused by this year’s hurricanes highlight concerns for the addressing the disaster needs of impacted populations.

Of special concern during these events are at-risk individuals – these include people with access and functional needs that may interfere with their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. Under Read more…

BARDA adds new antibiotic to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections in order to protect the American public

Author: Mark Albrecht, Project Officer, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 8/30/2017 1:21:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; National Health Security;

Antibiotics underpin nearly every facet of modern medicine. You can’t have a hip replacement or a caesarean section without effective antibiotics to prevent or treat bacterial infections. The same holds true in a mass public health emergency involving a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) threat. During a biodefense emergency, people may be hospitalized for prolonged periods, potentially exposing them to secondary infections including drug-resistant infections that are occurring at an alarming rate.

That’s why BARDA is focused on development and approval of  Read more…

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