Hospital to focus on emergency responses

Yale-New Haven Hospital has received a $450,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help coordinate emergency response efforts with health care organizations across the nation.

Yale-New Haven is the first non-university hospital to be designated as a Center for Public Health Preparedness by the CDC. The Center’s main focus is to assist other organizations in mitigating potential risks, said Christopher Cannon, the Center’s director.

“We help other hospitals and health care organizations become better prepared to respond to emergencies,” Cannon said. “It’s a very global mandate overall.”

Cannon said Yale-New haven was designated as a Center primarily because the CDC wanted to expand the range of individuals who are trained to deal with disaster beyond medical school students.

“We talked to the CDC about training health care workers on the front lines, whether it’s in the city, the region, anywhere,” he said.

So far, 38,000 of the 178,000 health care workers in Connecticut have gone through trainings, which can either be given directly or indirectly through the Internet, Cannon said. He said the trainings, which are gradually spreading across the country, range from introductory emergency management to radiation response.

Cannon said horizontal integration — which he described as cooperation between all community organizations — is crucial to an effective health care emergency response. Hurricane Katrina is an example of a situation in which authorities failed to produce such coordination, he said.

“All disasters are a result of community and emergency organizations not being able to effectively respond,” he said.

Derek Slap, New Haven’s director of public information, said he could not comment on whether the City of New Haven is crafting a new emergency response policy in the wake of Yale-New Haven’s new role. Officials at City Hall did not return requests for comment.

Cannon said the hospital will try to work with the city to coordinate emergency response, though the hospital will not necessarily be the response leader in every case.

“It depends on the nature of the disaster,” he said. “You want to have a plan in place so that agencies know each other and work with each other.”

A dirty bomb at Union Station, for example, would trigger a different response than a flu pandemic. he said.

Cannon said he hopes to secure additional funding for Yale-New Haven’s efforts. He said he has met with Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation and is currently looking into developing connections with other health and security organizations.


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