HHS allocates $498 million for hospital preparedness

first_imgMay 27, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this week it is allocating $498 million for grants to states to help healthcare facilities improve their ability to cope with bioterrorist attacks and other emergencies that could cause many casualties.With this year’s awards, HHS will have provided more than $1.5 billion for hospital preparedness over the past 3 years, the agency said. The grants go to states, territories, and four metropolitan areas: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.The main purpose of the funding is to help healthcare facilities prepare for mass casualties that could result from bioterrorist attacks, other disease outbreaks, and natural disasters, HHS said in a news release. Other goals include improving the coordination of disease reporting by hospitals and state and local health departments, enhancing disease-reporting coordination among public health laboratories and hospital laboratories, and harmonizing the communication capabilities of these organizations.”States and communities can use these funds to improve emergency care in any health crisis, whether the source is a bioterror attack or other infectious disease outbreaks like SARS or West Nile virus, or any natural disaster like a flood or hurricane,” HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson stated in a news release.The grants to states range from $1.75 million for Wyoming to $38.8 million for California. The funds are handled by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The agency awards a base grant of $1 million to each state or city, and the additional amount is based on population, according to HRSA officials.HRSA Administrator Elizabeth M. Duke, PhD, said hospitals can use the money to improve their ability to quickly add beds, isolate and decontaminate patients, find qualified volunteer healthcare workers, and plan for hospital-based caches of drugs and medical supplies.To qualify for the funds, states, cities, and territories have to update their hospital preparedness plans by reporting their achievements the previous year and plans for the coming year, HRSA officials told CIDRAP News.The states and other jurisdictions must submit applications for this year’s round of grants by July 1, said Richard J. Smith, director of HRSA’s Division of Healthcare Emergency Preparedness. The agency sent out guidance information on how to prepare the applications May 24, he told CIDRAP News.Smith said he couldn’t give specifics on how much of the hospital preparedness money awarded in the past 2 years has been used so far. Of the funds awarded in 2002, “We know that virtually all of that money, in excess of 90%, has been expended,” he said. Some of the fiscal year 2003 funds awarded last year have not yet been spent, he added, but he couldn’t give figures. Jurisdictions are allowed to carry over funds from the previous year provided they have a plan for using them.HRSA has not yet done a formal assessment of what has been achieved with the hospital preparedness funds awarded in recent years, according to Smith. However, the agency has established 15 “critical benchmarks” of preparedness, and in the applications they submit this year, states are required to report on certain “sentinel indicators” related to those benchmarks, he said.For example, states are being asked to report how many people have been enrolled in a registry of volunteer healthcare professionals who could help hospitals in a major emergency, Smith said.See also:May 24 HHS news releasehttp://archive.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040524.htmllast_img read more