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National Hospital Preparedness Program Report Highlights State-by-State Accomplishments

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More than 76% of hospitals participating in the National Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) met 90% or more of all program measures for all-hazards preparedness in 2009, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

From Hospitals to Healthcare Coalitions: Transforming Health Preparedness and Response in Our Communities, the program’s first state-by-state report, identifies the advances states have made in preparing hospitals for all types of disasters and discusses next steps.

HHS established the program in 2002 as the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program to enhance hospitals’ ability to respond to a biological attack by increasing stockpiles of equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals that financially strained institutions would not have been able to purchase without the program. The program evolved to support preparedness for all hazards. In New York State, HPP funds are administered by the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Health Emergency Preparedness (OHEP) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program.

The report highlights the New York City hospital response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic when initial cases of H1N1 were identified in a group of high school students from Queens who returned home from spring break in Mexico. Hospitals in New York City created new and non-traditional surge capacity to manage the outbreak and were able to launch robust vaccination campaigns for H1N1 while continuing to meet routine emergency department demands.

The report also describes a March 2009 chimney collapse at Adirondack Medical Center’s Saranac Lake site that caused the heating system to fail, which led to an evacuation of patients. The report notes that the evacuation occurred seamlessly and with uninterrupted patient care and safety, due in part to the planning efforts of the HPP/OHEP funded Regional Resource Center at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Medical Center, which prepared facilities in the region to provide mutual aid. Contact: Christopher Smith

Published May 6, 2011