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Guidance is available to help communities reopen former hospitals to care for survivors of Hurricane Katrina

Public health officials and emergency response teams now have information available to help them reopen former (shuttered) hospitals to care for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The information includes lists of supplies and medications needed by stable medical/surgical patients and checklists to assess facility readiness, staffing needs and levels, and patient transport readiness.

The information comes from a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality entitled Use of Former ("Shuttered") Hospitals to Expand Surge Capacity, which gives emergency responders and public health officials useful, practical tools for opening shuttered hospitals when an emergency is under way. The information is available on AHRQ's Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/research/shuttered/. The report also gives surrounding communities that aren't immediately affected by the hurricane a way to assess their existing facilities to meet future needs.

The new report includes separate, fill-in-the-blank checklists for chief administrators, facilities experts, medical personnel, security experts, equipment and supply experts, and medical gas system verifiers to use in evaluating a facility. It also contains action checklists that help emergency planners assess and fulfill staffing needs, additional expertise required, and management needs.

Included in the report is a tool kit with a list of supplies and equipment needed for operation of a reopened facility. These supplies include such items as nutritional and feeding supplies, gloves and masks, bandages and dressings, and microbiology needs and syringes. A preliminary, basic pharmacy list that details medications that would be needed for typical medically stable medical/surgery patients is also included. The report was prepared under contract to AHRQ by Abt Associates, Inc.

Editor's Note: AHRQ has a number of tools and resources that can be used now during Hurricane Katrina response and recovery efforts that include the following:

  • Emergency preparedness models with a practical application for care of contaminated or infectious hurricane victims or first responders.
  • Hospital bed definitions to help organizations track the availability of beds.
  • The Emergency Preparedness Resource Inventory that allows local or regional planners to assemble an inventory of critical resources such as equipment, personnel, and supplies.
  • A tool to help State and local officials quickly locate alternate health care sites if hospitals are overwhelmed by patients.
  • A computer model that can help hospitals and health systems plan antibiotic dispensing and vaccination campaigns.
  • A tool designed to help planners develop a public health emergency contact center.

To access these resources and download the available tools, go to AHRQ's Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/path/katrina.htm.

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