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New Tool Helps State and Local Officials Locate Alternate Health Care Sites During a Potential Bioterrorism Emergency

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Press Release Date: July 27, 2004

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today released a tool to help state and local officials quickly locate alternate health care sites if hospitals are overwhelmed by patients due to a bioterrorism attack or other public health emergency. The alternate care site selection tool is being shared with emergency response planners at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

In the aftermath of a bioterrorist event or other public health emergency, hospitals may be overwhelmed by a sudden influx of patients. The new alternate care site selection tool is designed to allow regional planners to locate and rank potential alternative sites—stadiums, schools, recreation centers, motels, and other venues—based on whether they have adequate ventilation, plumbing, food supply, and kitchen facilities, for example.

"Finding a place to handle hospital overflow in an emergency situation is one of the most fundamental steps in bioterrorism preparedness," said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "The Department is proud to have played a key role in funding this important resource."

Available as an Excel spreadsheet, the new tool was produced by Denver Health, one of AHRQ's Integrated Delivery System Research Network (IDSRN) partners. AHRQ's IDSRN program links the nation's top researchers with some of the largest health care systems to conduct fast-track research on cutting-edge issues in health care.

"This new resource is the latest example of how our IDSRN partners are fast-tracking research and making new tools available as quickly as possible," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "We hope no one ever needs to use this tool, but we are pleased to make it widely available."

The alternate care site selection tool is included in a new report entitled Rocky Mountain Regional Care Model for Bioterrorist Events. Copies of this report are available on the AHRQ Web site at

The new tool and report are two of over 50 studies, workshops, conferences, and other activities funded under the Agency's bioterrorism research portfolio ( AHRQ sponsors research that provides the evidence base for tools and resources needed in bioterrorism planning and response.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1271 or (301) 427-1865.


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