Boston University News Release

3rd December, 2007

Boston University School of Public Health Receives $2.5 Million Grant to Improve Emergency Preparedness in Greater Boston

(Boston) - Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) has received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate an effort to improve emergency and disaster response among public health and medical care providers throughout Boston and the metropolitan area.

The 11-month project will strengthen lines of communication and cooperation among hospitals, public health departments, long-term care facilities, ambulance services, and community health centers in a Greater Boston area that includes 2.2 million people and 62 cities and towns.

“We are working to build consistent communications and response protocols among public health offices, health care providers and other emergency responders,” said Harold Cox, associate dean of public health practice at BUSPH, who is responsible for coordinating the preparedness project. “In a localized emergency that might require patients to be evacuated from hospitals or nursing homes, for example, we need to know quickly which other facilities in the area have the capacity to accept and care for them,” said Cox. “We have a tradition in Massachusetts of thinking that each city and town should be responsible for its own health care and public health services. The modern-day threat of terrorism and the challenges of possible epidemics or weather-related emergencies require us to break out of that mold and work toward better integration of services,” he said.

The grant is awarded by HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and establishes a new regional collaboration known as the Partnership for Effective Emergency Response (PEER). The PEER project area includes three Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) regions known as 4A, 4B, and 4C, which include Boston and a ring of Massachusetts communities roughly north to Wilmington, west to Marlboro, and south to Wrentham. (See end of release for complete list of participating cities, towns, and hospitals.)
“The strength of the grant application is a testament to the hard work of dozens of partner agencies,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “Now, all of the partners begin the hard and extremely important work of designing an emergency health and medical communication system that will enhance cooperation across geographic and professional boundaries. I applaud the hard work of all the people who made this grant a reality,” Auerbach added.

First and foremost, collaborators will work to create an efficient, timely, and reliable communications system. PEER will also bolster mutual aid agreements and deliver training. The project will conclude next summer with a culminating emergency response drill involving all participants.

Since 2002, the DPH has been working to improve emergency response effectiveness of health care organizations with funds provided by successive ASPR grants awarded to DPH in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks. “We have been working to make sure the individual health care facilities and services —hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical response services, and health centers—have the tools and infrastructure they each need to respond more effectively and efficiently to emergencies, said Nancy Ridley, director of patient safety for DPH.” The PEER grant awarded to the Boston University School of Public Health is extremely important because it will help us build on that work and create stronger cooperative links among health care organizations and individual cities and towns,” she said.

Immediate tasks of the grant include establishing a PEER Governing Council representing 17 lead signatory agencies, each of which will assume a set of organizational responsibilities in the project. PEER participants include 27 acute care hospitals, 57 community health centers, 70 ambulance services (including 35 providing paramedic- level services and one medical evacuation flight operation), 62 local health departments and boards of health, 132 nursing homes or long-term car facilities and seven federally recognized Medical Reserve Corps.

A planning kick-off event will bring collaborators together for the first time on December 14.

“This is an important project, one that will ensure more efficient delivery of services to a large population area in times of medical or health-related emergency,” said Brian P. Golden, New England regional director of HHS. “One of the best aspects of the PEER project is that the templates and tools it develops will be made available to communities nationwide, extending the nation’s emergency response readiness,” he said.

PEER Project’s Participating Communities

Region 4A—Metro North
Acton, Ashland, Bedford, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Millis, Natick, Norfolk, Sharon, Sherborn, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Walpole, Waltham, Wayland, Weston, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn, Wrentham.

Region 4B—Metro South
Arlington, Belmont, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Chelsea, Cohasset, Dedham, Everett, Hanover, Hingham, Hull, Milton, Needham, Newton, Norwell, Norwood, Quincy, Revere, Scituate, Somerville, Watertown, Wellesley, Westwood, Weymouth, Winthrop.

Region 4C—Boston

PEER Project’s Participating Hospitals

Region 4A—Metro North
Emerson Hospital, Concord
Lahey Clinic, Burlington
Marlborough Hospital, Marlborough
Framingham Union Hospital, Framingham
Leonard Morse Hospital, Natick
Winchester Hospital, Winchester

Region 4B—Metro South
Beth Israel Deaconess-Glover, Needham
Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge
Somerville Hospital, Somerville
Whidden Hospital, Everett
Caritas Norwood Hospital, Norwood
McLean Hospital, Belmont
Milton Hospital, Milton
Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge
Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Newton
Quincy Medical Center, Quincy
South Shore Hospital, South Weymouth

Region 4C—Boston
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston
Boston Medical Center, Boston
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
Caritas Carney Hospital, Boston
Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Boston
Children’s Hospital, Boston
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Faulkner Hospital, Boston
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
New England Medical Center, Boston

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