Katrina: Health and Human Services Stepping Up
According to industry sources, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt held a conference call this afternoon with the hospital community. The call was organized by hospital associations, including the Federation of American Hospitals and the American Hospital Association.
HHS is organizing a number of medical shelters, the purpose of which will be to provide care to patients evacuated from hurricane-damaged areas. They hope to have 10 shelters established by the end of this week. The shelters will care for less severely ill patients while sicker patients will be evacuated to available hospital beds throughout the country. The Secretary and his staff indicated that HHS has developed a plan for staffing the medical shelters that will require at least 100 individuals to staff each of the 250-bed shelters. Secretary Leavitt is asking the nation’s hospitals to consider volunteering a team of health care workers from their hospitals to help staff the shelters for at least a two-week period. HHS staff indicated that they will be following up shortly with each hospital association with details about their staffing request. They have asked each hospital association, in turn, to share this information with their members, and to coordinate their members’ responses for the department. There are several regulatory issues to be resolved. This still developing.