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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

News Release

September 30, 2020
ASPR Press Office: 202-730-0194

HHS selects third pilot site to demonstrate better approach to disaster medical care

Funding continues for first two sites after demonstrating significant impact and potential for return on investment

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) today awarded Denver Health and Hospital Authority a $3 million cooperative agreement to demonstrate how a Regional Disaster Health Response System (RDHRS) can improve medical surge and clinical specialty capabilities – including trauma, burn or other specialty care – during a national emergency and save more lives.

The award is the third such agreement from ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program designed to show the potential effectiveness and viability of a RDHRS.

In addition, ASPR will continue funding the first two RDHRS pilot demonstration sites to build on their accomplishments to date, providing $1.5 million to Nebraska Medicine in Omaha and $1.6 million to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Funding to Massachusetts General Hospital includes $100,000 to carry out COVID-19 convalescent plasma efforts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the real and serious threats our nation faces to healthcare delivery and the immediate, even overwhelming, need for specialty care that occurs during a public health emergency,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec. “The Regional Disaster Health Response System establishes a model that draws on the existing U.S. healthcare infrastructure, pulling together private sector and federal resources in a way that has never been done to build specialized capabilities that could save lives during a public health disaster.”

All three pilot demonstration awards focus on building and maturing the multi-state partnerships that are required to support specialty clinical care for patients impacted by 21st century health security threats, enhance health care situational awareness, and ensure medical surge capacity at the local, state, and regional levels.

As the existing two demonstration projects continue to scale up their regional disaster preparedness and response capabilities – and as the third demonstration project provides another opportunity to test the concept in a new region – their progress will show the potential effectiveness and viability of a RDHRS. 

The RDHRS builds on local health care coalitions and trauma centers, creating a tiered system of disaster health care. The system will integrate local medical response capabilities with emergency medical services, burn centers, pediatric hospitals, labs, and outpatient services to meet the overwhelming health care needs created by disasters.

All three recipients will build or continue to expand systems that exhibit the following five capabilities:

  • Build a partnership for disaster health response to support clinical specialty care;
  • Align plans, policies, and procedures for clinical excellence in disasters;
  • Increase state-wide and regional medical surge capacity;
  • Improve state-wide and regional situational awareness, such as the availability of hospital beds; and
  • Develop metrics and test the regional system’s capabilities.

A panel of experts drawn from professional associations, academia, and federal agencies selected Denver Health and Hospital Authority from among three applicants nationwide based on extensive criteria in the funding opportunity announcement published in August 2020.

For more information about the accomplishments achieved by the existing two pilot projects, read the Regional Disaster Health Response System: Report to Congress.

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  • This page last reviewed: September 30, 2020