Minnesota Coordinates Mass Dispensing of Antibiotics and Vaccines With AHRQ Research
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is using AHRQ-sponsored research on bioterrorism to facilitate the coordination of the mass dispensing of antibiotics and vaccines in the event of an emergency. The Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak Response Model (BERM) has proven integral to the design of a regional planning paradigm for Minnesota's 87 counties.
Nathaniel Hupert, MD, MPH, and colleagues at the Weill Medical College of Cornell developed the BERM. Dr. Hupert's AHRQ-funded research tools were created to help public health officials address bioterrorism concerns, such as clinic staffing, design, and capacity. It is the Nation's first computerized staffing model designed to assist public health planners in estimating the number and type of staff needed for patient triage and the dispensing of drugs over an entire community.
LuAnne McNichols, RN, MN, of the MDH, attended a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Strategic National Stockpile mass dispensing work group in Atlanta, Georgia. The work group provided an overview of mass dispensing issues and the public communication required to facilitate the mass dispensing process.
As Minnesota's Bioterrorism Clinical Coordinator, McNichols and her colleagues first defined demographics of the populations to assist in identifying the number and locations of mass dispensing sites. In addition, they analyzed the locations of health care facilities, roads, and the patterns of population movement for Minnesota's eight public health regions. MDH then used the BERM to predict the staffing needs for an emergency preparedness plan to protect the entire population of each region in five days.
McNichols states, "Planning for events that are too large or frightening to imagine is conceptually easy, but practically difficult. At some point, planning has to become concrete. Although the model is just a tool, it aids in planning by estimating real numbers. Those real numbers allow the planners to take the next step."