Aligning Community Hospitals with Local Public Health Departments: Collaborative Emergency Management

Aligning Community Hospitals with Local Public Health Departments: Collaborative Emergency Management

Anne M. Hewitt, Stephen L. Wagner, Riad Twal, David Gourley
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8159-0.ch012
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This chapter reviews the current organizational relationships between public health departments, local community hospitals, and medical centers as they relate to emergency preparedness and management. To examine their collaborative role, an analysis of legislative statutes, Joint Commission compliance mandates, professional accreditation standards, NIMS task force recommendations, and eligibility criteria for federal grants was completed. The information gleaned from this process was then synthesized to offer suggestions for developing positive collaboration outcomes. Reports from the three example stakeholder organizations suggest that positive changes in the level of community relationships have occurred. Continued maturation of emergency preparedness advisory boards, task forces, and coalitions also appear to have strengthened collaboration between the public and private agencies. To further encourage a systems model of collaboration, two strategies based on coalition capacity building are recommended. Leveraging gains made in community relationships over the past few years will continue to strengthen and improve emergency preparedness and management collaborations.
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A recent report by the Rand Center for Domestic and International Health Security examined collaboration between public health departments and hospitals between 2001 and 2003 (Davis et al., 2006). Using site visits, surveys, and data from the Surveys of Federal Preparedness Programs for Combating Terrorism, the researchers focused on two collaboration mechanisms; programming or process linkages and feedback mechanisms. Their findings indicated that at least 75% of the hospitals and local health departments surveyed had emergency response plans in place and that those plans addressed integration with local organizations including a list of contacts at local, state and federal levels. Fewer hospitals (65%) than public health departments (80%) reported conducting joint training with public health departments. These findings suggested a marginal improvement in both hospitals and local health department relationships on the examined criteria between 2001 and 2003. The researchers also concluded that pre-existing relationships were essential for enhancing coordination efforts between these two community health service organizations. The report also found that inflexible funding restrictions for collaborative activities are a barrier to more efficient and effective coalitions (Davis et al., 2006).

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