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. This article provides an overview of the HPP and the Center's hospital preparedness research for ASPR. Based on that work, the article also defines healthcare coalitions and identifies their structure and core functions, provides examples of more developed coalitions and common challenges faced by coalitions, and proposes that healthcare coalitions should become the foundation of a national strategy for healthcare preparedness and response for catastrophic health events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law