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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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…

Recovering from the Fourth Worst Disaster in U.S. History: Implications for Children’s Health in Recovery

Author: CDR Betty Hastings Louisiana Federal Health and Social Services Recovery Field Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Published Date: 8/23/2017 11:50:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Last year’s flooding in Louisiana ranked as the fourth worst disaster in U.S. history. Fifty-six of Louisiana’s 64 parishes were affected by major floods in 2016, and communities are still recovering with the help of an interagency federal response.

Child care centers and schools closed. The statistics related to children were staggering.

  Read more…

Discovering a Career in Health

Author: Priya Rathakrishnan, President, HOSA Executive Council
Published Date: 8/22/2017 1:10:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

For teachers, volunteers, and leaders looking to engage young people, it can be hard to know where to start or how to get those young people involved. Often the best avenue to engage new audiences is to go directly to them in the places they already spend time. In looking to engage young people, professionals should look to other areas in their community where young people volunteer. In her own words, here is one student’s journey, from local library volunteer to HOSA President, that shows how an initial spark of interest in volunteerism and community involvement can build into  Read more…

Whatever it takes: Medical Reserve Corps volunteers leverage eastern tradition to aid behavioral health after disasters

Author: Stacy Sayre, Region 8 Medical Reserve Corps Liaison and Rachelle Lambert, Licensed Acupuncturist and Unit Coordinator, Colorado Acupuncture Medical Reserve Corps
Published Date: 8/16/2017 9:41:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Innovations;

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, managers at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York asked the nearby Lincoln Recovery Center to provide respite and ear acupuncture treatment for staff and first responders impacted by the tragedy. Some of those treated reported that after treatment they slept better than they had in days or weeks.

Lincoln Recovery had developed an ear acupuncture treatment called the NADA protocol to assist substance abuse detoxification and recovery support in concert with other behavioral health interventions. The successful use of this techni  Read more…

Get Social: Using Online Networks to Advance Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 8/16/2017 9:41:00 AM
Category: National Health Security;

You probably know that Americans of all ages use social media, but did you know that social media has emerged as a critical resource for the public in disasters, providing timely situational awareness, preparedness guidance, and emergency assistance?

According to the American Red Cross, one in five people will try an online channel for help if unable to reach EMS in an emergency. Many emergency services, health organizations, and even news and government agencies also depend on social media for vital information in crisis and disaster events.

Whether your agency or or  Read more…

Influenza, Measles, and Tetanus: Preventing the Spread of Life-Threatening Diseases during Disasters and Every Day

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 8/9/2017 9:52:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. Routine vaccination protects people from 18 dangerous or deadly diseases. There are many reasons to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations and to make sure that your family members get vaccinated, but here’s one that you might not have thought of: vaccination can help keep you healthy when disaster strikes.

Immunizations are especially important in the wake of disasters for residents who have to evacuate their homes. In any public place, you’ll be exposed to illnesses of other   Read more…

In High Demand: How Health Centers Can Build Surge Capacity, Support People with Access and Functional Needs, and Advance National Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 8/2/2017 10:34:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

Our nation’s network of nearly 1,400 community health centers play a vital role in providing health care services to almost 25 million patients, including 8.4 million patients in rural health centers. When a disaster strikes, they have a key role in supporting national health security by continuing to provide services to the people they care for every day.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, community health cente  Read more…

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