New Hampshire hospitals are a critical element within the state's disaster medical response system and work collaboratively with local government, other health care providers and state, regional and local agencies to plan, prepare for and respond to the needs of victims of natural or man-made disasters, bioterrorism, and other public health emergencies. Hospital emergency preparedness is a priority for government at all levels, as well as a key focus of regulatory and accrediting agencies. Hospitals must respond to increasing preparedness standards and activities, while simultaneously providing effective service to their communities.
As a partner in New Hampshire's Hospital Preparedness Program, NHHA provides ongoing support to New Hampshire's hospitals in all-hazards disaster planning and response. We do this under a contract with the State of New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services that is funded by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response grant funds.
Program activities include but are not limited to: assistance with meeting grant deliverables; convening the hospitals to share best practices and solve challenges, facilitation and liaison with local jurisdictions and community partners, providing technical assistance, conducting site visits and support to hospitals; emergency management program review; and identification of hospital needs and priorities.
Why Have Hospital Emergency Plans?
Hospitals have been involved in emergency planning for a long time, but since September 11, 2001, it has been recognized that their role in the community-wide response extends beyond the predictable. In a large-scale event, a hospital's capacity and capabilities will be challenged to surge beyond normal operations. Mass casualties of the magnitude that can be expected with a disaster related to terrorism or other incidents demand an expanded role for hospitals. They must be supported by their communities as they attempt to protect the facility, its patients and personnel while attending to the victims of a disaster.
With the enormity of the task that has been set before us by global circumstances, increasing severe weather and even local disasters, emergency planners have had to review established norms and standard ways of operating and embrace a broader spectrum of roles and responsibilities. Collaboration between traditional first responders and the non-traditional role of hospitals in community-wide first response is improving, but requires continuing improvement and development. Hospitals are critical elements of the community and regional response system which necessitates their ability to protect their patients, staff and infrastructure and respond to the disaster.
What is the Federal Hospital Preparedness Program?
The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 transferred the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program (NBHPP) from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). The focus of the program has now expanded to an all-hazards preparedness from the original focus on bioterrorism. The purpose of the ASPR Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) is to enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to prepare for and respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies. Program priority areas include interoperable communication systems, National Incident Medical System compliance and training, bed tracking, personnel management, mass fatality management planning and hospital evacuation and shelter in place planning. During the past five years HPP funds have also improved medical surge capacity and resources, decontamination capabilities, isolation capacity, pharmaceutical supplies, training, education, drills and exercises.
Hospitals, outpatient healthcare facilities, health centers, poison control centers, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and other healthcare partners work with the appropriate state or local health department to acquire funding and improve healthcare system preparedness through this program. Funding is distributed directly to the health department of the State or political subdivision of a State (cities and counties are considered political subdivisions of States).
The HPP supports priorities established by the National Preparedness Goal established by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Goal guides entities at all levels of government in the development and maintenance of capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from major events, including Incidents of National Significance. Additionally, the Goal will assist entities at all levels of government in the development and maintenance of the capabilities to identify, prioritize and protect critical infrastructure.
New Hampshire Hospital Mutual Aid Network
The New Hampshire Hospital Mutual Aid Network Memorandum of Understanding is a formal written agreement between all hospitals in which they agree that in the event of an incident affecting hospital services and/or impacts the operational capabilities of any hospital, that they will work together to provide assistance to each other.
All Hospital CEOs signed this document in 2001 and all renewed in 2010. The entire approach to the ASPR Hospital Preparedness Program is based on this concept.
Hospital Emergency Management Group
Every New Hampshire hospital has a designated Emergency Management Coordinator (HEMC) who is responsible for implementation of emergency preparedness and response in each of their hospitals. This group meets bi-monthly to determine the direction of hospital preparedness, set the funding allocation strategy and most importantly to network, share and problem solve.
Members are from diverse backgrounds/departments – Emergency Department Directors, Nurses, Infection Prevention, EMS Coordinators, and Facility Directors, Emergency Managers. Most wear multiple hats but bring a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge to the group.
Web Resources – Coming Soon
Response to Events
New Hampshire's hospitals have responded to many emergencies such as the potential SARS outbreak, major flooding, the 2008 tornado and ice storm the 2009/2010 H1N1 outbreak, the
2010 wind storm, and Tropical Storm Irene.
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS (2003-2011)
- NH Hospital Mutual Aid Network
- Doubled Isolation Capacity
- Developed Hospital Decontamination Capability
- Upgraded HEAR Radios (ED)
- HAM Radio Project for Redundancy
- PPE Equipment Purchase
- Evacuation Equipment
- Doxy Cache
- First Receiver TTT
- HICS IV TTT
- HICS IV Implementation
- Met NIMS requirements
- HC Standard (resource tracker)
- Web EOC access
- HSEEP-compliant evaluator training and TTT
- 44 members achieved Certified Healthcare Emergency Professional
- Hospital surge capacity – minimum 30% surge
- 100% participation on standardizing hospital emergency codes
- Built solid relationships between hospitals through networking and working together for common achievement
- Improved collaboration with stakeholders and partners makes it easier to achieve ASPR's goal of partnerships and coalitions.