HHS awards $352 million to providers for disaster preparedness

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The Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it is awarding $352 million in grant money to help healthcare providers improve disaster preparedness efforts.

The grants, which are provided under HHS' Hospital Preparedness Program, are intended to help health systems respond to emergencies such as tornados, floods and other natural disasters. A massive tornado in Joplin, MO destroyed Greenbriar Nursing Home and a hospital in May. Missouri used state HPP funds to purchase a mobile medical unit that serves a temporary hospital for Joplin residents.

Healthcare providers can use HPP funds to hire emergency management consultants; develop and implement evacuation plans; purchase emergency pharmaceutical cashes; run training programs for volunteers and staff; purchase supplies for managing mass fatalities and provide shelter for residents and staff in place, among other uses. HHS is expected to free up additional disaster preparedness funding in August via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement program.