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New AHRQ Resources Can Help States and Local Communities With Disaster Planning and Response Involving Nursing Homes

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Press Release Date: July 19, 2007

The Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today released Emergency Preparedness Atlas: U.S. Nursing Home and Hospital Facilities, which is intended to help local communities identify the health care facilities (hospitals and nursing homes) that could be available and prepared to provide assistance under emergency conditions in their communities.

The Emergency Preparedness Atlas includes six case studies in North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, southern California, Washington, and Utah that each include a series of maps depicting the locations and capacity of nursing homes and hospitals as well as their geographic relationship to a variety of emergency management and bioterrorism preparedness regions, such as HAZMAT response regions, emergency management regions, and Red Cross chapters. The Atlas includes maps for all 50 states with the location of hospitals and nursing homes in each state, and it displays the locations relative to the distribution of the elderly population in the case study states. 

"States, local communities and other planners need accurate and reliable information about nursing homes and other facilities that care for some our nation's most vulnerable citizens," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "This new resource can help stimulate productive discussions among planners to further our nation's preparation and response efforts."

Also published with the Atlas is a report, Nursing Homes in Public Health Emergencies, which presents the results of a series of focus groups convened to collect information about disaster- and bioterrorism-related planning activities among nursing homes in the same six states used in the Atlas case study series. The report addresses the roles that nursing homes could play in regional preparedness, for example arranging with hospitals to transfer their less-critically ill or recovering patients to nursing homes. 

"Planning resources such as the atlas and accompanying report will help prepare our nation, at all levels of government, to respond to the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response RADM Craig Vanderwagen, M.D., USPHS.

Emergency Preparedness Atlas: U.S. Nursing Home and Hospital Facilities and Nursing Homes in Public Health Emergencies were developed for AHRQ under contract with RTI International. Both can be found online at and To order a copy of the Atlas or Nursing Homes in Public Health Emergencies, contact the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

AHRQ has funded more than 60 emergency preparedness-related studies, workshops, and conferences to help hospitals and health care systems prepare for public health emergencies. More information about these projects can be found online at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855 or (301) 427-1245.


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