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Definition

 

The Northeast Arkansas Healthcare Coalition is a group of healthcare organizations in a specified geographic area that agree to work together to enhance their response to emergencies or disasters.  It uses a systems-based approach (NIMS) that utilizes a standardized set of management steps that are sequential and may be applied to any major undertaking.  This dictates that overarching (all embracive) objectives strategies, and tactics are established to promote effective response management and consistency. 

 

Background

 

After 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax letters, it was evident that our nation’s healthcare system was largely underprepared to handle the unique needs and large volumes of people who would seek medical care following catastrophic health events. In response, in 2002 Congress established the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to strengthen the ability of U.S. hospitals to prepare for and respond to bioterrorism and naturally occurring epidemics and disasters. Since 2002, the program has resulted in substantial improvements in individual hospitals’ disaster readiness. In 2007, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) contracted with the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to conduct an assessment of U.S. hospital preparedness and to develop tools and recommendations for evaluating and improving future hospital preparedness efforts. One of the most important findings from this work is that healthcare coalitions— collaborative groups of local healthcare institutions and response agencies that work together to prepare for and respond to emergencies—have emerged throughout the U.S. since the HPP began.

 

Purpose

 

Recognizing that hospitals must become better prepared to handle the unique needs and often overwhelming volumes of patients following catastrophic health events, Congress established the HPP in 2002 in HHS ‘‘to upgrade the preparedness of the Nation’s hospitals and collaborating entities to respond to bioterrorism [and]…allow the health care system to become more prepared to deal with non-terrorist epidemics of rare diseases.’’  The program originally focused on strengthening preparedness of individual hospitals for biological events, but the emphasis has evolved over time to encourage greater all-hazards coordination among healthcare facilities in the same community or region.