Coalition is meant to strengthen health care amid disasters

January 8, 2013

By Staff

NEW — 4 p.m. Jan. 8, 2013

The harrowing patient evacuations during Hurricane Sandy last year demonstrated the challenges hospitals face in disasters.

In the Puget Sound region, hospitals, public health agencies, and other health care providers in King and Pierce counties joined forces as the Northwest Healthcare Response Network to prepare for calamities. The coalition launched in January after a merger between the King County Healthcare Coalition and the Pierce County Coalition for Healthcare in Emergencies.

Northwest Healthcare Response Network formed to help coordinate the efforts and resources of hospitals, long-term care, pediatric and other providers in planning, training, and responding to emergencies.

“Communities are more resilient to disasters when neighbors help one another, and that also applies to healthcare,” Dr. David Grossman, medical director at Group Health Cooperative and Northwest Healthcare Response Network Executive Council chairman, said in a statement. “By sharing resources — like hospital beds, medical supplies and medical staff — we will be more efficient and save more lives.”

The organization is continuing initiatives launched under the earlier coalitions, including planning for pediatric care during disasters, development of mutual aid agreements for medical facility evacuations, and coordinating a rapid response to any incident involving large numbers of casualties and fatalities.

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