HHS gives millions to improve hospital disaster planning

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services last week awarded about $332 million to states, territories and large cities to help hospitals and health systems improve surge capacity and better prepare for public health emergencies, AHA News Now noted.

The Hospital Preparedness Program (HHP) funds will go toward enhancing emergency medical planning and integrating public-private emergency management, according to the HHP website.

HHS also awarded more than $584 million in Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) funds for state and local public health departments.

Both programs aim to foster collaboration among healthcare organizations, public health departments and federal emergency management and homeland security programs to bolster resources and eliminate duplicative preparedness activities, HHS said in the announcement.

"Recent events underscore the critical role these preparedness programs play in ensuring our healthcare and public health systems are poised to respond successfully to emergencies and recover quickly from events like Hurricane Sandy, large explosions such the chemical plant in Texas, or terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings in April," Nicole Lurie, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said Wednesday in a statement.

The Boston Marathon bombing in April and the tornado in Oklahoma in May put hospital disaster planning to the test, reinforcing the importance of testing plans for all types and sizes of emergencies as well as having hospital workers that know exactly what to do and then do it.

In the wake of these events, hospitals across the country have been conducting emergency training drills to prepare for the worst kinds of disaster and a sudden influx of trauma patients.

For more:
- read the HHS announcement
- check out the HHP website
- here's the AHA News Now brief