Ahead Of Proposed Federal Budget Cuts, Health Department Issues First Annual Report on Health Care System Emergency Preparedness

Health Department works with the entire New York City health care system
to strengthen its ability to respond to emergency incidents

More than half of city hospitals with pediatric services tested their emergency plans this year; 449 primary care sites connected to the Primary Care Emergency Preparedness Network

President Trump’s budget would cut emergency preparedness funding by $163 million

August 3, 2017 – The Health Department today issued its first annual Health Care System Preparedness Report (PDF), which covers Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016). The report details the collaborative and intensive work between the Health Department and health care facilities across the city. The agency works closely with the entire health care system to prepare for emergencies – hospitals, long-term care facilities, primary care providers, emergency management and EMS – through the New York City Healthcare Coalition. Key accomplishments include trainings at 53 hospitals; 98 emergency department drills to identify and isolate patients with infectious diseases; and intensive technical assistance to 72 long-term care facilities in basic emergency management. These programs are primarily funded by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), with additional support from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP). Emergency preparedness is at risk under President Trump’s budget, which includes a $136 million cut to CDC preparedness, including a $115 million (9.9 percent) cut to PHEP and a $27 million (10.6 percent) cut to HPP.

“Every day, the Health Department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response works with health care facilities across the region to prepare for the unexpected. Federal funding has enabled the Health Department to make vital investments to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration would reverse 15 years of important progress in preparing our health care systems for emergencies and threaten the health and security of millions of Americans.”

Over the last 10 years, the Health Department’s emergency preparedness funding has decreased by 35 percent. The President’s proposed budget cuts will result in staff reductions and a decrease in the number and scope of exercises for testing New York City’s preparedness plans. The cuts will jeopardize the safety and security of New Yorkers and make residents more vulnerable to both natural and intentional disasters.

In Fiscal Year 2016, the Health Department funded and coordinated emergency preparedness efforts at 55 acute care hospitals, 248 long-term care facilities, 43 Federally Qualified Health Center networks, and 60 dialysis centers. The trainings simulated a high-stakes emergency, such as a terrorist attack, disease outbreak, natural disaster or active shooter. When possible, the facilities also tested their coordination with the Health Department and other city agencies involved in health care delivery system response to emergencies. The Health Department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response worked closely with nearly all of the health care facilities in New York City. Some the exercises included:

  • Pediatric services: Thirteen of the New York City hospitals that provide pediatric services (54 percent) tested their response to a hypothetical mass casualty incident involving pediatric patients. The exercise included the Health Department, Fire Department, Emergency Management and the Pediatric Disaster Coalition. The hospitals showed the capacity to care for an additional 119 Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) patients (an approximate 80 percent increase in PICU capacity).
  • Mystery patient drills: Forty-nine of New York City’s 911-receiving hospitals (100 percent) participated in two mystery patient drills each; hospitals successfully identified and isolated the mystery patient 81 percent of the time.
  • Nursing homes training: Nineteen nursing homes (11 percent) tested their ability to respond to a novel pandemic influenza strain infecting large numbers of people in the New York City metropolitan area. The exercise prompted curriculum enhancements for training facilities to use emergency radios for communications during a disaster.
  • Multiple explosion scenario: Eleven Brooklyn hospitals, three long-term care facilities and two regional burn centers tested their ability to respond to a multiple explosion scenario. The exercise included the Health Department, Emergency Management, New York State Department of Health, Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City, Greater New York Hospital Association and Fire Department Emergency Medical Services.
  • Ebola virus disease: Seven hospital systems and the 3 Designated Treatment Centers for Ebola and special pathogens tested their ability to identify, isolate, and transport a patient with Ebola virus disease, in coordination with the FDNY, providing an opportunity to test protocols that could be used for Ebola or other highly infectious diseases.

“As one of the country’s top tourist attractions and terror targets, New York City may be more vulnerable to public health crises or emergency situations. For instance, when it came to the Ebola scare, New York City’s Ebola Treatment Centers quickly and meticulously answered the call of duty to handle the threat and that’s why I fought to make sure they were reimbursed by the federal government for their role in protecting the community. In today’s day and age, we should be increasing the federal investments we make in emergency preparedness, not taking a meat ax to its federal funding sources like what the Trump administration is threatening to do. These dollars prevent costly and crippling disasters and help save lives, so it makes no sense to cut this funding,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried said, “In the face of massive cuts to federal emergency preparedness programs proposed by the Trump administration, New York City continues to be a national leader on emergency preparedness and response. Through proactive drills, careful planning, and close coordination with health care facilities all across the greater New York metropolitan region, the City’s public health authorities continue to work to keep New Yorkers safe.”   

Partnering with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene helps us fulfill our shared mission to ensure the health and wellness of New Yorkers before, during, and after emergencies,” said Nicholas V. Cagliuso, Sr., PhD, MPH, Assistant Vice President for Emergency Management at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Our collective successes rely on our ongoing communication, coordination, and collaboration in all that we do together

“The hospital community greatly values its strong relationship with the City Health Department on emergency preparedness and response issues,” said Greater New York Hospital Association president Kenneth E. Raske. “The Department’s emergency preparedness investments over the last 15 years have enabled hospitals to develop, improve, and test emergency response plans, train staff, and learn from the real-world events that impact our region.”

The Health Department also helps health care facilities train staff, create emergency plans that account for a surge in patients or an evacuation and purchase evacuation supplies, such as evacuation sleds for carrying patients down stairwells. In addition to working with the health care system, the Health Department’s emergency preparedness and response work includes disease surveillance to quickly identify bioterrorism or naturally occurring outbreaks, laboratory testing, and public health surveillance. In an emergency, the Health Department offers mass vaccinations, mental health needs assessment and service coordination, clinical guidance and risk communication, and environmental mitigation.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle, (347) 396-4177