Last July, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it had established a network of medical centers capable of responding to outbreaks of severe, highly infectious diseases as part of a larger effort to further strengthen the nation’s infectious disease response capability. HSS said it selected nine health departments and associated partner hospitals to become special regional treatment centers for patients with Ebola or other high morbidity infectious diseases.
But not all veteran public health authorities who’ve been involved in combating infectious disease outbreaks and developing response planning are completely supportive of HHS’ initiative, which we’ll get into.
HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) awarded approximately $20 million through its Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) to enhance the regional treatment centers’ capabilities to care for patients with Ebola or other highly infectious diseases. ASPR will provide an additional $9 million to these recipients in the subsequent four years to sustain their readiness.
Each awardee will receive approximately $3.25 million over the full five-year project period. The funding is part of $339.5 million in emergency funding Congress appropriated to enhance state and local public health and health care system preparedness following cases of Ebola in the United States stemming from the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
HHS said the facilities will be continuously ready and available to care for a patient with Ebola or some other equally as dangerous and severe, highly infectious disease, whether the patient is medically evacuated from overseas or is diagnosed within the United States.
These regional facilities are part of a national network of 55 Ebola treatment centers, but will have enhanced capabilities to treat a patient with confirmed Ebola or other highly infectious diseases. Even with the establishment of the nine regional facilities, the other 46 Ebola treatment centers and their associated health departments will remain ready and may be called upon to handle one or more simultaneous clusters of patients, HHS emphasized.
“This approach recognizes that being ready to treat severe, highly infectious diseases, including Ebola, is vital to our nation’s health security,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Dr. Nicole Lurie. “This added regional capability increases our domestic preparedness posture to protect the public’s health.”
HHS announced its new HPP Ebola Preparedness and Response Activities funding opportunity on February 20, stating that a total of $194,500,000 is to be awarded to states and other grantees for Ebola health care system preparedness and response, and the development of the regional Ebola treatment strategy.
This funding, in addition to the Ebola emergency funds awarded through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program, provides a total investment of $339,500,000 to enhance state, local and health care system preparedness for Ebola through the emergency appropriations passed with bipartisan support in Congress last December. These funds are supposed to build on gains made in health care and public health preparedness efforts over the past decade through the HPP and PHEP cooperative agreements with states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Division of State and Local Readiness, administers funds for preparedness activities to state and local public health systems through the PHEP cooperative agreement.
“I’d like to thank cities, states and hospitals across the country and the public health community for stepping up and taking action,” Lurie said. “We are building on the work we’ve already done and further investing in domestic preparedness to protect the public’s health from Ebola, as well as boosting preparedness for many other types of health threats.”
The nine awardees and their partner hospitals are:
Massachusetts Department of Public Health in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts;
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in partnership with New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation/HHC Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City;
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in partnership with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland;
Georgia Department of Public Health in partnership with Emory University Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta/Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia;
Minnesota Department of Health in partnership with the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota;
Texas Department of State Health Services in partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in Galveston, Texas;
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska;
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in partnership with Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado; and
Washington State Department of Health in partnership with Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.hstoday.us