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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: Public Health Preparedness

Continuous Demands, Multiple Disasters, Mounting Stress

Author: Rachel Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Advisor for Behavioral Health, HHS/ASPR Emergency Management and Medical Operations
Published Date: 9/13/2019 3:33:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Response & Recovery;

How Emergency Responders can Protect against Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and PTSD

As any emergency responder knows, EMS providers, healthcare professionals and other emergency responders work in fast-paced, demanding, challenging environments. Although this work can be incredibly rewarding, the accumulation of daily stressors coupled with the intense pressures associated with a disaster – such as taking on unfamiliar duties, witnessing horrific events, comforting traumatized people, working back-to-back shifts, eating poorly, and sleeping rarely – can have serious repercus  Read more…

HHS’ efforts better prepared Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands for Dorian

Author: Mike Cote, Federal Health Coordinating Official and Regional Administrator
Published Date: 8/30/2019 8:01:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

Hurricane Dorian didn’t deliver the damage, destruction, and mass patient caseload to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that many people anticipated the storm would — and that’s a good thing. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico was ready for a hurricane in a way it has never been before thanks to the efforts by HHS’ Division of Recovery team.

Over the past two years, federal and territory government agencies and non-government organizations have worked together to prepare Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands healthcare systems for hurricanes and other natural disasters. These  Read more…

The Evolution of the Strategic National Stockpile

Author: Greg Burel, Director, Strategic National Stockpile, and Denise Williams, Technical Writer-Editor, Strategic National Stockpile
Published Date: 8/21/2019 10:02:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

Twenty Years of Stockpiling Critical Medical Products and Training Professionals to Respond to 21st Century Health Threats


Twenty years ago, Congress established the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), originally named the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, with a $51 million appropriation and a handful of staff quietly housed in CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. Today, the SNS is part of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and holds a $7 billion inventory as well as vast experience in preparing for and responding to a variety   Read more…

Novel Partnerships, Payment Shifts, and Emerging U.S. Leadership for Antimicrobial Drugs

Author: Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director
Published Date: 8/5/2019 9:01:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasingly serious threat to America’s public health and national security. The resources necessary to discover, develop and commercialize innovative, life-saving antimicrobials are similar to other disease areas; however, the relative return on investment is exceedingly low.

In May, I highlighted the need for an immediate paradigm shift in the antimicrobials marketplace. I specifically called out the importance of building new business models, developing novel partnerships,  Read more…

Building a Better Pipeline of Candidate Products for Project BioShield

Author: By Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director
Published Date: 7/31/2019 9:38:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

Project BioShield has revolutionized the way we protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. Our ultimate goal is to save lives during a national disaster; we prepare for this eventuality by pursuing FDA approval and availability of countermeasures in preparation for such emergencies. The government alone cannot fill the need for medical products to save lives in public health emergencies and disasters; public-private partnerships are essential every step of the way.

BARDA’s approach to public-private partnerships is remarkable. We reduce business risk  Read more…

Health Care Coalition Response Leadership Course

Author: Richard C. Hunt, MD, FACEP, Senior Medical Advisor, National Healthcare Preparedness Programs HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 7/18/2019 9:06:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

From Penguins to Practical Solutions that Enhance Disaster Response

Teams that perform well have a shared mental model of success. Think about penguins. In the waters of Antarctica, penguins form groups to perform a complex task: get food in a chaotic environment with competing demands. But, all of these penguins are operating with a shared idea of success: fish for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch…). Healthcare coalitions often don’t have that level of clarity and that can be a real problem. When their teams come together, they often don’t agree on  Read more…

Teaching Life-saving Skills in Minutes

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 7/3/2019 5:02:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers Empower Communities using Stop the Bleed Training

Last month, teams of volunteers from Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units across the country taught life-saving skills to the people in their communities as part of Stop the Bleed month. The MRC is a national network of local groups of volunteers engaging local communities to strengthen public health, reduce vulnerability, build resilience, and improve preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. These volunteers dedicated more than 780 hours to training peop  Read more…

Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act 2019: What Does It Mean for Me and My Organization?

Author: By Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/25/2019 10:54:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

At ASPR, we’re excited about the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPAIA), which the president signed last night. The new law strengthens public health and healthcare readiness, bolsters response and recovery programs, and increases transparency. What do the changes mean for our non-federal partners? We see some key provisions that can significantly improve preparedness and response for our partners.

Improving preparedness

PAHPAIA authorized a funding increase for the Hospital Pr  Read more…

Building a Better Network: Four Ways to Make Critical Connections Your Facility Could Rely on During a Medical Supply Shortage

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Michael Eltringham, Stakeholder Engagement Analyst, ASPR Critical Infrastructure Protection Program Contract Support
Published Date: 6/13/2019 8:26:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

When Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, one unexpected challenge faced by the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector was maintaining production of medical gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and argon on the island of Puerto Rico. The power needs for such an operation exceeded available generators; so, for the duration of electricity outages in the area, novel plans had to be devised for the challenging transport and distribution of products across the island.

Partners from the gas manufacturers, healthcare facilities, and the federal and territorial government closely coordinated   Read more…

Capacity-Building Toolkit for Including Aging and Disability Networks in Emergency Planning

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Senior Advisor for At-Risk Individuals, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 5/13/2019 11:03:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

Today, older adults and people with disabilities are better able to remain in their homes and live independently, thanks in part to the work of Community Based Organizations (CBOs).  But when disasters strike, older adults and people with disabilities are among the hardest hit and they may not be able to effectively respond to, cope with, and recover from a disaster. If you are a part of the aging and disability networks, planning for disasters and emergencies and establishing the partnerships needed to better serve the people who rely on you can be daunting.  How  Read more…

Project BioShield: Enhancing Preparedness, Ensuring Treatment Options

Author: Brian Tse, Oxana Selivanova, Claiborne Hughes, and Mark Albrecht
Published Date: 5/13/2019 9:42:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;


Stockpiling Novel Antibiotics Safeguards Nation, Sustains Commitment to Industry

Bacteria evolve and change, becoming more dangerous and deadly, and often developing resistance to existing medical countermeasures. Consider some of the resistance problems we face today. In recent years, we’ve seen increasing incidences of multi-drug resistant salmonella, gonorrhea, and typhoid, just to name a few examples. Now, think about what would happen if evolution or terrorists created antibiotic-resistant strains of biothreat agents, such as anthrax, plague, tularemia, mel  Read more…

Help guide the future of disaster health readiness, response, and recovery

Author: Christopher L. Perdue, MD, MPH, Commander (CDR), US Public Health Service, Senior Policy Coordinator, HHS/ASPR Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements
Published Date: 5/7/2019 4:05:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

HHS seeks outside experts for national advisory committee

Disaster readiness, response, and recovery are complex and the threats involved continue to evolve. The nation faces a myriad of potentially challenging health effects following a disaster. The HHS Secretary depends on the advice, expertise, and counsel of outside experts from the National Biodefense Science Board for recommendations to help make complex decisions and guide the future of disaster health preparedness, response, and recovery. Participating on the board provides a unique way to get involved in pu  Read more…

The Intersection of Hurricane Response and Opioid Use Disorder

Author: Rachel Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Advisor for Behavioral Health, HHS/ASPR Emergency Management and Medical Operations
Published Date: 5/6/2019 8:38:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Observances;

What Disaster Responders, Healthcare Professionals, and Disaster Relief Service Providers Need to Know

Hurricane season is just around the corner.  If you are thinking about ways to prepare for the next hurricane, take a moment to consider this:  approximately 2.1 million people have an opioid use disorder according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and over 47,000 of them died by overdose in 2017 according to a  Read more…

New Training to Enhance Disaster Health Outcomes for Your Whole Community

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 4/12/2019 3:27:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Free online training focuses on helping people with access and functional needs


In planning for the whole community’s needs during a disaster, consider that on any given day, approximately half of the U.S. population has a temporary or permanent condition that limits their ability to take action in an emergency. Simply put – they have access and functional needs (AFN).

Addressing access and functional needs is a crucial part of comprehensive disaster planning for the whole community and is mandated for inclusion in federal, state,  Read more…

Preparing for a Potential Domestic Ebola Outbreak

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 3/15/2019 2:11:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Enhancing U.S. Healthcare System Preparedness and Public Health Emergency Response Capabilities

Blog Series:  Battling the Ebola Epidemic

An Ebola outbreak that began more than seven months ago continues to claim lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Although international response efforts are underway to contain the outbreak at its source and prevent the spread of the disease to other countries, we must always be prepared for the possibility of an Ebola case in the United States.

<  Read more…

Combating and Containing the Ebola Outbreak

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 3/14/2019 4:13:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

ASPR’s Strategic Approach to Ebola Medical Countermeasure Development and Utilization in the 2018 Ebola Outbreak

Blog Series:  Battling the Ebola Epidemic

Ebola reemerged as a health threat in 2018, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where two outbreaks of Ebola virus disease have occurred since May 2018. The first of these two outbreaks, in western DRC, was quickly contained. However, the second outbreak, in eastern DRC, has yet to be contained due in large part to the volatile security situa  Read more…

National Disaster Medical System: Bringing More Than Teams of Professional Medical Providers

Author: Ron Miller, Ph.D., Director, National Disaster Medical System, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/13/2019 10:35:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) has a heroic, yet complex, mission to save lives and protect Americans. When disaster strikes, it’s potentially the worst day in the lives of hundreds – if not thousands – of people. Therefore, our mobilization, implementation, and execution need to be streamlined and seamless.

However, we never rest on our laurels. We are constantly training and identifying gaps within the preparedness and response framework to better mobilize when the inevitable ultimately occurs. NDMS has identified three pillars to expand the service’s c  Read more…

Whole-of-Government Approach: What It Means and How It Translates to Improving National Health Security

Author: Daniel Dodgen, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/6/2019 9:46:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

National Health Security Strategy Blog Series: Part 2

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published its quadrennial strategy to safeguard the nation’s health in times of crisis. The 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) provides a vision to strengthen the nation’s ability to prevent, detect, assess, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies.

The new strategy focuses on three overarching objectives: 1) prepare, mobilize, and co  Read more…

Four Ways to Plan to Protect Patient Health in a Medical Supply Shortage

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Michael Eltringham, Stakeholder Engagement Analyst, ASPR Critical Infrastructure Protection Program Contract Support
Published Date: 1/25/2019 11:59:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

Blog Series: Anticipating and Managing the Challenges Associated with Supply Shortages

According to FDA, there are currently 109 drugs in shortage in the U.S. Supply shortages threaten patient health even in the best circumstances, but their number and impact can be exacerbated by a prolonged disaster response. With so many shortages, one is likely to impact your hospital or healthcare facility at some point.  By planning to cope with the impacts of a supply shor  Read more…

The HPH RISC Toolkit: A No-Cost Risk Assessment for Your Healthcare Facility

Author: Brittney Seiler and Michael Eltringham, HHS ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)
Published Date: 1/17/2019 4:13:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

Managing risk is one of the most complex and critical aspects of running a healthcare facility. The goal of the Healthcare and Public Health Risk Identification and Site Criticality Toolkit (HPH RISC Toolkit) is simple: make that task easier – at no cost to the facilities.

The ASPR RISC Toolkit is a cost-effective, objective, data-driven, all-hazards risk assessment tool. It allows your facility to determine its ability to withstand a variety of 21st century health security threats, including chemical, b  Read more…

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