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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: Hospital Preparedness

Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 12/10/2019 3:38:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Observances; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

End-to-end Solutions to Combat Next Influenza Pandemic

Last year, many of us paused to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic that infected approximately one third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people. Yet influenza outbreaks and pandemics are not just some footnote of history. In just the last decade, we have faced three serious influenza-related incidents: a severe flu season in 2017 claimed the lives of 79,000 people,  Read more…

Take a Shot at Decreasing Hospital Acquired Infections and Enhancing National Health Security

Author: Domestic Policy Branch, HHS/ASPR Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning and Requirements
Published Date: 11/6/2019 10:18:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

A Case for Encouraging Seasonal Influenza Vaccination among Healthcare Workers


Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed approximately 675,000 people in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Although that number is daunting, it doesn't take a pandemic for influenza to seriously threaten patient health.  The disease burden for seasonal flu is still stunning 100  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…

Expanding Your Partnerships to Enhance Medical Surge: Seven Ways to Engage Outpatient Care Settings

Author: ASPR TRACIE
Published Date: 8/13/2019 11:09:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery; Hospital Preparedness;

Outpatient care settings  - including federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), rural health clinics (RHCs), urgent care centers, home health and hospice agencies, and primary care provider practices - have a wide range of capabilities that could be used to save lives in an emergency, but are they integrated into our nation’s emergency healthcare response system? How can healthcare coalitions better engage outpatient healthcare providers to enhance disaster response?

These are just some of the questions the experts from ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Cen  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…

BARDA-supported Zika Virus Test Receives FDA Clearance; Ready for Clinical Laboratory Use

Author: Rodney L. Wallace, Director, Detection, Diagnostics, and Devices Infrastructure Division, HHS/ASPR Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
Published Date: 6/6/2019 10:36:00 AM
Category: Innovations; Medical Countermeasures; Hospital Preparedness;

The first commercially available Zika virus diagnostic, a product BARDA supported through its advanced research and development program, received authorization for marketing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 23. The test provides results from a blood sample in about four hours. Called the ZIKV Detect 2.0 IgM Capture ELISA, the test exemplifies the progress that is possible with public-private   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…

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…

Exhaustion in the ED and Beyond: Managing Supply Shortages and Staff Fatigue in Healthcare Facilities

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: 2/19/2019 10:54:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness;

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

The next time you face a supply shortage – from saline to syringes – brace yourself. Another shortage may be on the way:  staffing. As we discussed in the first blog in this series, hospitals and healthcare facilities face supply shortages every day, and these shortages require staff to dedicate more time and resources so they can continue providing patient care  Read more…

EMS: A Critical Partner in Successful Community Disaster Planning and Response

Author: Richard Hunt, MD Senior Medical Advisor, National Health Care Preparedness Programs, ASPR and John Hick, MD, Deputy Chief EMS Medical Director, Hennepin County Medical Center
Published Date: 5/21/2018 11:43:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security;

During EMS Week, we want to draw attention to the vital role EMS plays in disaster healthcare and salute our Emergency Medical Services colleagues nationwide. We know that across the country, our EMS colleagues work on the frontlines of health, providing lifesaving services every day, even on the worst days in your communities. EMS is the first point of contact with medical services for millions of Americans, and with every call EMS professionals put years of training and education to use to make a difference. Your care saves lives.

All too frequently, EMS must respond not j  Read more…

Healthcare Response to a No-notice Incident: Lessons Learned from Las Vegas Festival Shooting

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/24/2018 3:48:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

On October 1, 2017, during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, a gunman opened fired from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel on the crowd of concertgoers. He fired more than 1,100 rounds leaving 59 dead and 527 injured.

Recently, ASPR staff spoke with responding agencies from the Las Vegas shooting to help identify lessons learned that can help other communities, specifically members of the nation’s 476 health care c  Read more…

Hospital Preparedness Program: Celebrating 15 Years of Health Care Preparedness and Response

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/16/2018 11:38:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Whether from devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or deadly disease outbreaks, the United States regularly faces crises that threaten the health and safety of Americans. Saving lives during these events requires thorough planning and dedicated coordination to ensure the nation’s health care system is ready when disaster strikes.

Health care readiness is at the heart of ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). As the only source of federal funding to prepare the nation’s mostly private healt  Read more…

Lessons from Fukushima: New guide provides answers to save lives and improve emergency medical response

Author: John F. Koerner, MPH, CIH, Senior Special Advisor - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Science and Operations, HHS ASPR Immediate Office
Published Date: 3/12/2018 2:22:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; Exercises & Trainings; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security; Response & Recovery;

Quick questions: A nuclear incident has occurred in your community and people are going to come to you for help. Do you know which medical issues you should focus on first? Or which steps need to be taken immediately after an incident to best protect the public? Or what resources might be available to help?

Before you answer “no” to any of those questions, download a copy of the newly released Decision Maker’s Guide: Medical Planning and Response for a Nuclear Detonation.

An e  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…

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…

Prepare to Play It Cool: Helping At-Risk Populations Combat Extreme Heat

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 6/29/2017 11:27:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

Summer is officially in full swing, and temperatures are sizzling in several parts of the country. While hurricanes, floods, and storms may be the types of severe weather most emergency planners and responders consider, extreme heat can be just as damaging, if not more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat kills more than 600 people every year in the United States, making it a top cause of weather-related deaths.

Whether as a rising average temperature or as heat waves, extreme heat is a health threat that can be more far reaching than an  Read more…

The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in National Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 1/27/2017 2:01:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

When it comes to national health security, creating new partnerships between private organizations and public entities is a key priority. These public-private partnerships (PPPs) often work to support health security efforts in new ways that can support communities in need, especially during or after a disaster event.

With 90 percent of critical health infrastructure operated by the private sector, creating new partnerships for public health organizations that can support preparedness and response planning is vital for creating truly health secure communities.

A publi  Read more…

Ensuring a coordinated response to Zika and other public health threats

Author: George W. Korch, Jr., Senior Science Advisor, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 12/5/2016 12:41:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; Hospital Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery;

When the first confirmed case of Zika transmission was reported in Puerto Rico on December 31, 2015, there were no vaccine candidates for Zika. Today there are at least a dozen approaches in the US alone that are being evaluated to someday be available for general use. Diagnostic assays to help patients make informed decisions about their health are also under development.

How have so many medical countermeasures advanced so quickly to fight a threat that few people were worried about just last year?

The partners in the Public Health Emergency Medical Enterprise (PHEM  Read more…

Pikachu in the PICU: Pokémon Go Away!

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D. Chief, Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch, HHS-ASPR and Michael Pry, Director, Continuous Improvement at Excela Health System
Published Date: 7/29/2016 3:27:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

By now you’ve heard of the new augmented reality game, Pokémon GO, which brings a beloved set of cartoon characters from the 1990s into your environment through an app on your cell phone.  Pokémon can appear anywhere on a map, so the game encourages you to walk around your neighbourhood to locations where the Pokémon can be found—generally known as  Pokéstops or Gyms.  You too can hunt, train, and capture Pokémon in your own backyard, your neighbourhood park, or… your local hospital…

That last location causes some challenges for maintaining safety a  Read more…

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