Executive Roundtable

Talking Emergency Preparedness With Georgia Hospital Association

October 24, 201722 min
The Georgia Hospital Association works with the Georgia Department of Public Health to
administer the Healthcare Preparedness Program (HPP) grant, which helps hospitals in the
state prepare for disasters. GHA uses grant funds to maintain a website (www.gha911.org)
that features an array of emergency preparedness tools and resources, including up-to- the-
minute reports on response tactics on state and local basis during disasters. And GHA
educates and trains health care partners on new disaster preparedness products and
processes.
GHA’s disaster readiness program began in 1999, when efforts to evacuate the residents of
Savannah during Hurricane Floyd revealed a clear need for a better and more coordinated
system. In addition to traditional disasters like hurricanes and flu outbreaks, hospitals in the
state started preparing for terrorist attacks – including chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare.
The federal government formed the HPP in 2003. This helps hospitals prepare to respond to
disasters and other emergencies – including planning and equipment. The HPP also funds 14
regional health care coalitions in Georgia. Each coalition has an executive committee, as well
as a coalition coordinator and a coalition facilitator. The coalition coordinator is a
representative from the “lead” hospital (aka the “Regional Coordinating Hospital”). The
coalition facilitator is a representative from the region’s district public health office. It is also
worth noting that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) serves as the Specialty
Coordinating Hospital in the state (i.e., it helps prepare for the pediatric response to disasters).
The coalitions include a variety of providers, including nursing homes, hospice and home
health agencies, public health agencies, community health centers, EMS agencies, assisted
living facilities, psychiatric programs, and community emergency preparedness agencies.
The Georgia Department of Public Health administers a lot of the support services that are
provided under the HPP. Most of the HPP grant requirements are consistent with other state
and regulatory agency rules, which means that a nursing home, for example, can meet its
accrediting requirements by participating in its regional health care coalition.
Georgia has demonstrated that it is now prepared to respond to a variety of disasters in a
coordinated way, including the coastal evacuation that took place in conjunction with Hurricane
Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in 2017, and tornadoes, shooting
events, utility outages, and more.

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