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South Central Hospitals and Health Care Providers Meet to Improve Emergency Preparedness

August 09, 2017

South Central Pennsylvania health care preparedness officials recently met in Harrisburg to kick off the region’s new Health Care Coalition. Professionals from hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical services, behavioral health, hospice, and ambulatory care sites focused on improving emergency preparedness across the health care delivery system. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and the South Central Task Force opened the session. The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) Emergency Preparedness Team leaders, Tom Grace and Scott Mickalonis,  addressed coalition development and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) rule implementation.

CMS requires that, as part of a facility’s emergency preparedness efforts, it must:

  • Participate in a formal coalition
  • Establish plans to handle emergencies that may occur (based on risk)
  • Test those plans frequently with community partners 

Each of the nine regions covered by HAP Emergency Preparedness Regional Managers have been working during the past five years to develop implementation of Health Care Coalitions as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  HHS’ 2017–2022 Health Care Preparedness and Response Capabilities now govern how health care providers must effectively prepare for and respond to emergencies that impact the public’s health.

In Pennsylvania, each region has been identified as a Health Care Coalition and receives funding to help drive its preparedness efforts. All areas of the state are working toward implementation and have developed the governance and structure to meet performance expectations. The health care community must be able to respond in times of disaster to assist each other and have actionable plans for their own facilities should they be directly impacted by a disaster. The coalitions promote working, training, and exercising together; building relationships, and understanding which resources exist in their communities before a disaster occurs.

During the South Central training, Knowledge Center, LLC, spoke about the state's crisis management system. Knowledge Center™ Health Incident Management System (KC-HIMS) is a turn-key emergency information management system for hospitals and health care providers, government, and other organizations. The system promotes a “virtual collaborative environment” to facilitate cooperation between emergency managers and provide instant access to integrated data sources needed at times of crisis and disaster.

For information about how your organization can become involved in a Health Care Coalition, please contact your HAP Emergency Preparedness Regional Manager, or Tom Grace, HAP’s vice president, emergency preparedness.

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