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Guidance Available To Help Communities Reopen Former Hospitals To Care for Survivors of Hurricane Katrina

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Press Release Date: September 2, 2005

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 underway. The information is available on the AHRQ Web site at The report also will give surrounding communities that aren't immediately affected by the hurricane a way to assess their existing facilities to meet future needs.

"In emergencies of this magnitude, local communities and their neighbors need to take advantage of every available resource to care for their citizens," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "This information will help them ensure that closed facilities can be pressed into service at a time of emergency."

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.

The report also contains 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. The report also includes a preliminary, basic pharmacy list that details medications that would be needed for typical medically stable medical/surgery patients. The report was prepared under contract to AHRQ by Abt Associates, Inc. AHRQ is working with the American Hospital Association and other groups to disseminate this important new resource.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855 or (301) 427-1865.


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