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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: Response & Recovery

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 Aguadillo, 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 Aguadillo 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 Aguadillo 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…

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…

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…

When and how to help older people during and after 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: 6/27/2017 1:39:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Older people benefit from a lifetime of knowledge and experience that builds skills for coping with adversity and improves their ability to bounce back from disasters, also known as individual resilience. While many older people want to - and can - handle the challenges that arise from disasters on their own, their friends, loved ones, and even neighbors need to know when the older adults in their lives need a helping hand.

For those who live independently in the community, a little bit of assistance c  Read more…

What About Sparky? Incorporating Animals into Disaster Preparedness

Author: Captain Charlotte Spires, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Executive Director, National Advisory Committees for ASPR
Published Date: 6/20/2017 3:27:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As an emergency responder, what would you do if you suddenly had to care for 6,000 animals after a disaster? That was one of the biggest questions that I faced during Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of the storm, thousands of pets ended up at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Louisiana. The link between disaster veterinary health and the disaster human health became obvious really quickly. Evacuees and their pets both needed disaster health support.

Over half (68%) of all households in the U.S. have a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. Even though so ma  Read more…

What Does Stigma have to do with Mental Health and Disasters?

Author: Sarah Alcala, Senior Management Analyst with Aveshka Inc. in support of the Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience and Rachel E. Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Policy Analyst and Behavioral Health Team Lead, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/30/2017 2:41:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

According to the World Health Organization, 44-70 percent of people that needed mental health interventions do not receive treatment in any given year. Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said that stigma was perhaps the biggest barrier to people seeking mental health care. Stigma is a negative and often unfair projection of shame or judgment onto people in a particular circumstance. It occurs when people socially distance a group of “others” based on perceived negative stereotypes. People with mental illness can also self-stigmatize, which can lead to denial, unwillingnes  Read more…

From lessons learned to planning tools: Find out how you can help communities cope with disasters

Author: Rachel E. Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Policy Analyst and Behavioral Health Team Lead, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Lauren Lowenstein, Social Work Intern, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/27/2017 1:46:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

When a disaster strikes, it can be easy to see how the disaster damages buildings, bridges and parks. But the disaster’s impacts on behavioral health may not be so easy to see. Do you want a better understanding of ways that disasters affect behavioral health? Do you want to know how the federal government can help support behavioral health before, during, and after a disaster? Are you involved in emergency preparedness activities for a state, local, territorial, or tribal (SLTT) agency? Do you work for an organization that provides health services in emergencies?

If you a  Read more…

‘Tis the Season for Volunteering … with the MRC

Author: Brennan Leddy, Communications Specialist, Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 12/21/2016 3:28:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Exercises & Trainings;

This holiday season and into the New Year, I challenge us to also think of ways that we can give of our professional skills, training, and time to serve our local communities. While there are countless ways to do so — many of which were mentioned on the November ASPR blog — the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) provides a unique volunteer opportunity to strengthen public health and improve the safety of your community.

Established in 2002, the Medical Reserve Corps began with 42 community-based volunteer units   Read more…

Making health security a part of your community-based efforts

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 12/16/2016 10:51:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Response & Recovery;

The valuable work that most community-based organizations do each and every day within communities helps create stronger, healthier citizens, which in turn, helps our nation’s health security. And building stronger, healthier communities is a cornerstone of national health security.

Working to ensure that the health of a community and its residents stays strong and remains resilient in the face of any disaster events is one of the best ways community organizations can help build stronger national health security. So what does this community health resilience look like?

<  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…

When active shooters invade safe spaces, having a plan matters

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D. Chief, Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch
Published Date: 6/14/2016 12:21:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Planning considerations for health care settings

This week, we saw the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. When many people in the community talk about Pulse, the gay night club that was the scene of the attack, they say the same thing: “this was a safe place.”

The same can be said for hospitals:  we think of them as safe places. Yet according to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, there were 154 hospital-related shootings from 2000-2011.

The stat  Read more…

Community Paramedicine and the Changing Face of Pre-Hospital Care

Author: Experts from the CMS Innovation Center
Published Date: 5/20/2016 10:59:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Innovations; Hospital Preparedness;

For decades, emergency medical services (EMS) have conjured an image of ambulances speeding to save a life. We’re all familiar with their customary and important roles: rapid response for those in medical crisis; stabilization at the scene when necessary; and transport to hospital emergency departments (EDs) for continued management. Activated by a national network of 911 call centers, EMS professionals are poised for deployment to almost any site in the country to intervene in an emergency.

Today, however, many EMS systems have evolved from responding to medical emerge  Read more…

Low Literacy Populations and Disaster Communications: 5 Ways to Bridge the Educational Divide

Author: Elleen Kane, M.A., APR, public affairs specialist, ASPR and Elizabeth Jarrett, M.A., digital communication specialist, ASPR
Published Date: 5/20/2016 10:29:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

Here’s something to think about before you send your next message to your community: about half of your audience may not be able to read it. According to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), one of the world’s largest literacy studies, over half of U.S. adults read at basic levels or below.

As disaster health professionals of all kinds know, disaster health and safety information tends to be complicated with lots of caveats and can require people to run throug  Read more…

Older Adults: Include Connectedness in your Hurricane Plan

Author: Dr. Dan Dodgen, Director of the Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 5/18/2016 4:31:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Hurricane season is fast approaching and disaster preparedness should be something that everybody, including older Americans, is thinking about. It only takes one hurricane to change your life and your community. But that one hurricane can do some serious damage, especially if you aren’t ready for it.

Bouncing back after a storm isn’t just a matter of rebuilding your home, cleaning up or treating injuries. Preparing to take care of your behavioral health needs is an important part of being ready for a storm, especially for older adults.

After a disaster, it is com  Read more…

EMS Week 2016: Honoring those who Help Protect Health and Keep our Health Care System Strong

Author: Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response & Edward J. Gabriel, MPA, EMT-P, CEM, CBCP, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/17/2016 4:30:00 PM
Category: Observances; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

This week, May 15-21, 2016, we celebrate our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) would like to take a moment to personally thank all EMS professionals for the essential role they play in protecting the health of our nation each and every day.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, the seminal work regarded by many as the catalyst for the development of modern day emergency medical serv  Read more…

Updating the EMS Agenda for the Future: The Search for Data-Driven Approaches to Improvement

Author: Gregg Margolis, Division of Health System Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & Tara Holland, GAP Solutions, Inc. - Supporting the mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/16/2016 4:56:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

The emergency medical services (EMS) community is working to find collaborative solutions to some very tough questions so that they can better provide quality care during disasters and every day. For example, how can EMS professionals quickly access critical medical information on a patient with the current fragmented system of medical records? How can the system surge effectively and pull in people from other states in the face of interstate credentialing requirements? What are the opportunities for EMS to improve community health beyond emergency response?

These are   Read more…

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