7/11/2019 — 

WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to help ensure that Rhode Island’s medical facilities and health care systems are prepared for natural disasters and public health emergencies, U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced that the Rhode Island Department of Health will receive $5,447,600 to continue improving preparedness and health outcomes for a wide range of public health threats.  Rhode Island will receive $5 million through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement and over $445,000 to improve laboratory and surveillance systems that help track infectious diseases and detect and identify biological, chemical, and other high-priority public health threats.  The federal grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The federal PHEP funds are designed to enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies such as natural and man-made disasters, terrorism, foodborne outbreaks, and health epidemics.

“This is a smart investment in bolstering public safety and public health.  These federal funds will help ensure the Rhode Island Department of Health and local hospitals can respond quickly and effectively when a major disaster strikes.  It will bolster the state’s capacity to deal with pandemics or deliver treatment to the public in emergencies,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal funding for HHS programs.  “Our dedicated hospital workers and emergency responders are our first line of medical defense when disaster strikes.  This federal funding will help them coordinate and effectively respond when we need them most.”

HHS’ U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) administers PHEP funding to strengthen national health security and advance state and local preparedness and response capabilities.  HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) oversees HPP funding to help support preparedness for health care systems, organizations, and coalitions.  The funding may be used to provide interoperable communications equipment and technical support to health care facilities; upgrade patient tracking systems; and enhance evacuation plans.

The PHEP cooperative agreement was recently reauthorized through the bipartisan Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI), which the Senate unanimously approved in May and was signed into law on June 24, 2019.