Press Release Date: October 1, 2009
Two interactive computer tools released today by HHS' Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality will help emergency planners and responders select and
run alternate care facilities during disaster situations. In such instances,
hospitals experiencing a surge in seriously ill patients requiring acute care
may need to transfer less ill patients efficiently to alternate care sites.
Alternate care facilities are locations that can easily and quickly be equipped to augment
or replace health care services when hospitals and other traditional care sites
are inoperable or overwhelmed. Potential alternate care sites include college
campuses, gymnasiums, schools, community centers, health clubs, convention
centers or climate-controlled warehouses.
"Identifying alternate care facilities ahead of time and knowing what it takes to
get these sites up and running quickly is critical to ensuring the safest and best possible
care for the public during a disaster," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy,
M.D. "Experience gained from recent hurricanes and other emergencies have
made these robust resources invaluable to emergency planners."
The two tools allow users to input information on their specific medical care needs
and receive feedback on which facilities can become alternate care sites or which patients
can appropriately be moved to those sites.
- "Disaster Alternate Care Facilities Selection Tool" is an
interactive worksheet that assists users in selecting sites and identifying
what they need to prepare these sites for use. It evaluates the characteristics
of several potential facilities and calculates the results into weighted
scores, which planners can use to select appropriate sites for care and
plan for operations during a disaster.
- "Disaster Alternate Care Facility Patient Selection Tool" is
a decision support tool that matches a hospitalized patient's clinical
needs with the capabilities of an alternate care facility. This information
may help clinicians determine which patients might be eligible for discharge
or transfer to an alternate care facility to increase a hospital's
capacity for incoming patients.
contract to AHRQ, Denver Health developed these new tools for AHRQ as
an update of a previous alternate care site selection tool that it developed
in 2004. In addition to changes that make the tools more user friendly,
capability to capture richer demographic information, a simplified system
to rate facility characteristics and a "necessity level" indicator
that allows users to evaluate individual facility characteristics based
on local or regional need.
development of the tools with funding from HHS' Health Resources and
Services Administration's Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response also
tools are available on AHRQ's Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/prep/acfselection/.
AHRQ's role in federal public health emergency preparedness efforts is to conduct
research and develop evidence-based tools and resources that emergency
planners and responders can implement in the field prior to and during
disaster response operations. AHRQ has developed more than 60
emergency preparedness-related resources; for more details, visit:
For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1244 or (301) 427-1855.
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New Tools Help Emergency Planners Select Alternate Care Facilities and Transfer Patients During Disasters. Press Release, October 1, 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/press/pr2009/dacfstoolspr.htm