March 24, 2020
HHS Provides $100 Million to Help U.S. Healthcare Systems Prepare For COVID-19 Patients
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS ASPR) today announced it will provide $100 million to aid U.S. healthcare systems in preparing quickly for a surge in COVID-19 patients. The support will directly benefit the National Special Pathogen System, and is authorized in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act 2020.
"We cannot beat the COVID-19 pandemic without getting America's healthcare workers the training and resources they need to respond to this novel threat, and these funds secured from Congress by President Trump will help make that happen," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "America's healthcare providers are doing an incredible job, and this funding is one more way that the Trump Administration is supporting their heroic efforts. With help from HHS, for years, America's healthcare providers have been developing sophisticated, coordinated ways to respond to new threats, and we are working with them to draw on those investments today."
To speed U.S. healthcare preparations, the National Special Pathogen System will leverage the regional, tiered infrastructure set up for the U.S. Ebola response and will take the same successful approach used daily across the country to care for trauma, burn, cardiac, or stroke patients.
The National Special Pathogens Treatment System will include the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC); 10 regional Ebola and other special pathogen treatment centers; 62 HHS Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreement recipients and their state or jurisdiction special pathogen treatment centers; and hospital associations.
The NETEC is a consortium of three U.S. healthcare facilities that safely and successfully cared for Ebola patients: Emory University, University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine, and New York Health and Hospitals Corporation/Bellevue Hospital Center. NETEC facilities offer unique expertise, resources, and experience to assess other healthcare facilities' readiness to care for patients with highly infectious diseases; educate and train providers; and provide real-time technical assistance to healthcare providers.
The 10 regional Ebola and other special pathogen treatment centers, one in each HHS region, can receive, quickly confirm and successfully treat special pathogen patients. These centers have enhanced capability and capacity to care for patients with highly infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and will serve as regional hubs for the National Special Pathogens Treatment System. They will use training, curriculum, and other materials developed by NETEC to prepare other healthcare facilities and providers in their regions.
The HPP provides the only federal funding for healthcare preparedness and response through cooperative agreements with health departments in every state and territory and four large jurisdictions. These 62 health departments receive annual HPP funding to support healthcare coalitions that must plan, train, and respond together to disasters.
As part of the National Special Pathogens Treatment System, the HPP cooperative agreement recipients will support the urgent preparedness and response needs of more than 300 healthcare coalitions across the U.S. made up of local hospitals and other healthcare facilities, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and 9-1-1 or similar call centers. Coalition members collaborate to distribute patients and supplies to avoid overwhelming individual hospitals, clinics, or EMS providers.
Health departments receiving these funds also must provide the funding to special pathogen treatment centers in their states or jurisdictions that have demonstrated the ability to safely care for patients with highly infectious diseases and that will continue to accept patients from within their state or region.
Hospital associations will distribute funds directly to hospitals and other related healthcare entities for special pathogen preparedness and response in their states and jurisdictions. The associations also will collaborate closely across the healthcare systems and healthcare coalitions in their respective state or jurisdiction to provide ASPR with situational awareness including hospitals' response needs throughout the pandemic.
The National Special Pathogens Treatment System and continued technical assistance from ASPR will enable training, consultations, and continuing education for healthcare facility managers and healthcare providers; support innovative coordination mechanisms across regional, state and jurisdiction, and local healthcare facilities; and develop new strategies and tools to enhance capacity and capability to respond to COVID-19 and other highly infectious diseases.
About HHS and ASPR
HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. The mission of ASPR is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. By statute, ASPR's Hospital Preparedness Program provides annual funding and guidance to 62 public health department recipients that strive to increase national healthcare preparedness, including establishing healthcare coalitions throughout their jurisdictions. Healthcare coalitions are groups of individual health care and response organizations in a defined geographic location that play a critical role in developing health care delivery system preparedness and response capabilities. Currently, the U.S. has 360 healthcare coalitions nationwide with 38,750 coalition members. HPP cooperative agreement funding is not intended to provide all of the resources that facilities need to scale during a crisis.