Healthcare Preparedness in the United States

Healthcare Preparedness in the United States

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A health care system that is well prepared is the one that has the ability to manage consequences or outcomes in healthcare of any medical nature and the one that has the ability to and speed to harness all resources, both private and public, to cope and address a situation effectively and efficiently (U.S. Department of Homeland Security). The goals and objectives of any healthcare system in disaster management usually surrounds the system’s ability to function well under a number of circumstances that are not favorable that might include such adverse events like; a sudden increase in the number of patients that require healthcare, a prolonged increase in the number of patients, an environment that is contagious or contaminated, lack and loss of appropriate infrastructure that makes it possible for treatment to be delivered to patients in the community, poor awareness of the situation at hand, and disruptions or confusion of chains of command of incident management (Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, 2010).

A survey that was recently carried out indicated that most healthcare systems face numerous challenges when it comes to response to catastrophic health disasters or events. One of the key challenges was that numerous hospitals and other organizations specializing in health care services do not yet fully participate in coalitions for functional healthcare, which are necessary, for responding to health events that are catastrophic. Another challenge is that most healthcare coalitions do not have the resources to share resources, information, and decisions with other organizations to necessitate urgent and efficient response. The other challenge that the survey identified was that most healthcare systems had inadequate systems to carry out the necessary roles and responsibilities to bring about quick response, treatment and transport. In addition to this, the study also found out that the existing plans were not adequate enough to cater for the increasing number of patients; it was also found that guidance was not enough to most systems, and that healthcare roles, actions and responsibilities were not sufficient enough to address challenges that came with healthcare emergencies. Generally, the survey found out that most healthcare systems in the United States were inadequate and insufficient to respond to disasters and emergencies in healthcare (Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, 2010).

This paper will, therefore, analyze the case of cholera outbreak in Haiti and the kind of medical response that followed the medical emergency. The above guidelines and goals of the healthcare system in a medical emergency management are going to be used to decide whether the response was sufficient enough and effective or not.

Summary of the Case

Unfortunately, the Haiti earthquake was not the only disaster to cause despair in the country in the year 2010. Soon after, the earthquake hit the country was affected by a wave of cholera which started in Artibonite. It was estimated that the outbreak caused the death of more than three thousand individuals and left thousands of other people sick. Medical response teams were quick to respond to the disaster; the situation remained grim in most of the affected areas with more people living in circumstances that did not permit them to avoid contacting the highly contagious disease through contact with infected individuals and contaminated water. It was surprising that a disease that had not been seen in Haiti for years could cause such havoc to the country that had already been weakened by the earthquake (Haiti cholera outbreak response ‘inadequate’, says MSF).

One of the major concerns was that the urgent needs of the sick and other individuals were not being met even though a large presence of aid agency was noted. Some entities implied that swift action was not being taken to avoid further spread of the disease. They, for example, argued that the disease could have been well managed if more latrines had been built, if more safe supplies of water had been made available, and if bodies were removed quickly to avoid the spread of the disease and if the concerned parties took some time to console and assure the scared Haitians that the disease was treatable (Haiti cholera outbreak response ‘inadequate’, says MSF). Some of the initial responders of the disaster indicated that the charity was being helpful though the efficient response as well as real and effective response was not being realized from these charities. What concerned some officials was that people were wasting time debating and discussing the actions and less time attending to the sick and ensuring that the disease was not spreading. Funding was also indicated to be a huge challenge, in addition to lack of sufficient, resources and material to fight the disease and rapidly respond to it (Watson, 2010).

Basing the argument on the information provided by the survey, it is clear that the medical rescue mission in Haiti failed to attain the most essential goals. It was seen above that the medical response to Haiti was not adequate enough in that the concerned individuals did not ensure that there was adequate and safe water supply, efficient attendance of the increasing number of patients, enough personnel and resources to address the challenges that came with the outbreak, and they did not ensure that there was adequate public awareness of the disease. Just as well, it was also prominent that the concerned parties did not ensure that there were sufficient resources, both personnel and material resources (Watson, 2010). Funds were not available, and if they were they were not properly managed. As a result of all these inadequacies, the situation in Haiti became worse many people lost their lives, others became sick, and the most became frightened and scared because they did not have enough information about the diseases, and the fact that it was curable.

Alternatives and Recommendations

There are several alternatives and recommendations that the responders at Haiti should have followed to make the response efficient and effective. These recommendations can also be implemented throughout the United States to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated and to ensure that efficiency is achieved. One is that all healthcare systems in the US and the rest of the world should engage in healthcare coalition activities that helps the systems prepare for and respond to healthcare emergencies together. Another recommendation that should be implemented is that links and connections should be established between healthcare system coalitions that are close to one another so as to make it easy for the exchange of information and resources (Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, 2010).

Another recommendation is that triage sites that are out of the range of hospitals must be established, and responders trained and assigned to those sites. Also, a transportation system for patients should be established in healthcare systems that make use of other alternative resources. Further care crisis standards should be set, and expanded, and their implementation should be promoted both within the US and outside. Another key recommendation that is essential is that a national framework for response to healthcare emergencies should be developed to guide the rescue activities (Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, 2010).

Though all of the mentioned alternatives and recommendations are key to responding to a medical emergency efficiently and effectively, two of these recommendations are the basic and the most critical recommendations of all, as they determine whether the other recommendations will take place or not. These are two second, last recommendations, which promote the development of care crisis standards, their expansion, and their consistent implementation; and the development of a national framework for responders of medical emergency to act as a guide in the rescue activities in a medical emergency. The development and implementation of these two recommendations is one of the finest methods to ensure that way is paved for the establishment and implementation of the other recommendations (The White House).

Implementation Plans

To successfully establish and implement a care crisis standards, programs concerned with hospital and healthcare system preparedness should continue to provide guidance on the care crisis standards issue, to include things like the provision of a house for clearing information to facilitate both the local and state efforts in planning. To implement this recommendation, future guidance by the hospital preparedness programs should make care crisis standards specific planning, in addition to inter and intrastate, consistency in standards of crisis as first priorities. To establish and implement a national framework concerned with healthcare response, the interested parties including the federal government should speed up the development of the concepts of operations of the federal entity for medical emergencies. Further, the interested parties should create a work- group consisted of stakeholder and federal planners to come up with national concepts of operations for both public and medical health activities following a medical emergency (Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, 2010).


Emergency management is highly essential especially when the emergency concerns people’s lives. Proper preparedness is required to ensure that the emergency is addressed efficiently and effectively so as to contain as much damage as possible.


Center for Biosecurity of UPMC. (2010).The next challenge in healthcare preparedness- catastrophic health events. Retrieved from

Haiti cholera outbreak response ‘inadequate’, says MSF. BBC. Retrieved from

The White House. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21: Public Health and Medical Preparedness. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Federal Emergency Management Agency. Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101. Retrieved from

Watson, I. (2010). Medical group blasts ‘inadequate’ response to Haiti cholera outbreak. CNN. Retrieved from