CHUG: Disaster 'insurance' among friends

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

With all the talk of ACOs, bundled payments and creating better relationships, a different kind of provider collaborative recently caught my eye. I can't get it out of my mind.

It's called the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group — or CHUG for short. It's a suburban Chicago creation, although its organizers say it can be replicated just about anywhere.

It's  a bunch of providers who decided to band together to help each other out in case of disaster. CHUG has more than 350 members — primarily in Illinois, but also in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. The nonprofit group has become well known in its circles for emergency preparedness for healthcare organizations.

In brief, the CHUG Plan is a mutual aid system that addresses healthcare issues that a frail individual might encounter during evacuation, transportation or relocation as a result of any emergency.

Disasters and emergencies affect all facilities differently. This allows the luckier ones to give the others a lift, as and when needed. And everyone gets tied into local government, public safety bodies, hospitals, transportation providers and other support organizations. It is funded through membership dues, donations, consulting fees and special projects funded through grants.

CHUG offers training and education, planning and conducting functional exercises, emergency planning review and recommendations, and more.

For some suburban Chicago providers, that meant a world of difference last month when flooding made some streets impassible and basically shut down parts of cities.

Woe to the members who had only recently decided to drop out of the group. Especially those who started near, and then were inundated by a swollen river.

Surely, there must be similar groups around the country. Do you know of any?


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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