The HHS emPOWER Initiative: Emergency Preparedness Tools Addressing the Needs of Energy Dependent, At-Risk Populations

Sep 21, 2016 | Geoffrey Mwaungulu, Jr.

0173For the millions who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, oxygen tank services, dialysis services, and home health services; power outages are almost always life-threatening. Oftentimes, these individuals are forced to seek care during these potentially hazardous conditions, resulting in surge events, which may place additional strain on the resources of local health departments and healthcare facilities already responding to major public health emergencies.

To help communities address the added risks for these vulnerable populations, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) developed the emPOWER Initiative through a partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. This innovative and first-of-its-kind integrated platform provides progressively dynamic data and mapping tools that can help state and local health departments, and their partners, to better anticipate, mitigate, plan for, and respond to the potential needs of at-risk persons with access and functional needs prior to, during, and after a disaster.

HHS emPOWER Initiative Tools

The HHS emPOWER Initiative consists of three data and mapping capabilities that provide the right data and tools to the correct professionals when they need it. The first tool is the HHS emPOWER Map, a publicly-available resource that integrates de-identified Medicare billing-data, real-time NOAA severe weather tracking, and GIS mapping to highlight the number of at-risk individuals that use electrically-dependent, life-maintaining, and assistive durable medical equipment in geographic areas down to the zip code level.

The second tool is the HHS emPOWER Emergency Planning De-identified Dataset, which is accessible to public health authorities and provides de-identified Medicare billing information for each type of durable medical equipment and dialysis, oxygen tank, and home health care service in use within a state, territory, county, or zip code.

The third tool is the HHS emPOWER Emergency Response Outreach Dataset, containing limited individual level information through a secure mechanism, which can be used to conduct outreach prior to, during, and after a public health emergency. This resource is made available by request to public health authorities in the event of an emergency that requires life-maintaining and saving outreach assistance.

HHS emPOWER Initiative in Action

The HHS emPOWER Initiative strengthens the ability of local health departments (LHDs) and their communities to ensure their preparedness efforts are inclusive, addressing the needs of all residents. By actively using the initiative’s three tools, many LHDs and their partners have already bolstered their preparedness and response capabilities in significant ways.

For example, through the use of the emPOWER Initiative tools, the City of New Orleans has made informed decisions on the locations of emergency shelters, to better anticipate the needs of their residents. Both the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and the Arizona Department of Health Services use the HHS emPOWER Initiative to plan for disasters with a higher likelihood of impacting energy dependent, at-risk populations. Such emergencies include events where transportation of at-risk populations is critical to response (e.g. flooding and wildfires), poor air-quality may detrimentally impact those using oxygen-related medical services, and high temperatures play a factor in planning for and responding to the threat of a power outage. In addition, Broome County Health Department in New York implemented emPOWER tools to plan for the needs of their electricity-dependent community members while responding to recent flooding events, while the Fairfax County Health Department in Virginia similarly used the initiative in early 2016 to prepare for Winter Storm Jonas.

Additional Information

For additional information on accessing and using the HHS emPOWER initiative tools, LHDs are encouraged to contact their ASPR Regional Administrator and Regional Emergency Coordinator. Resources on the emPOWER Map tool can be found at this link.

NACCHO is also hosting a webinar next Monday, September 26 at 2:00-3:00 PM ET, which will further highlight the experiences of health departments currently using the HHS emPOWER Initiative. Click to register today.


About Geoffrey Mwaungulu, Jr.

More posts by Geoffrey Mwaungulu, Jr.

Related Posts

NRC RIM RFA Social Media

Request for Applications for COVID-19 Prevention and...

NACCHO is seeking a consultant to provide training and technical assistance to...

Oct 22, 2021 | Jas Florentino

Request for Applications for COVID-19 Prevention and...

Children running 2
  • COVID-19
  • Immunization
  • Maternal, Child, & Adolescent Health

Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccination Operational Planning Guide

With Pfizer-BioNTech’s submission for Emergency Use Authorization for their...

Oct 22, 2021 | Amy Frandsen

Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccination Operational Planning Guide

Nitrate Map Tazewell County
  • Water Quality
  • Community Health

Story from the Field: Large Increase in Private Water...

Central Region Groundwater Protection Committee provided funded the nitrate...

Oct 21, 2021 | Sarah Brubaker, Tazewell County Health Department

Story from the Field: Large Increase in Private Water...

National cancer institute fi3z H Lx Wr Yw unsplash
  • Immunization
  • Medical Reserve Corps

Vaccinating Underserved Communities

Since early May of 2021 the Passaic County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has been...

Oct 21, 2021 | Beth Hess

Vaccinating Underserved Communities

Untitled 600 x 400 px

Universal Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination: A Critical...

NACCHO expresses support for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice’s...

Oct 21, 2021

Universal Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination: A Critical...

PS22 Blog
  • Opportunity

Deadline Extended: Submit an Abstract for the 2022...

Deadline Extension! Submit Conference Abstracts by October 27.

Oct 20, 2021 | Beth Hess

Deadline Extended: Submit an Abstract for the 2022...

Coronavirus COVID 19
  • COVID-19
  • Tools & Resources

COVID-19 After Action Review Toolkit

The new COVID-19 After Action Review Toolkit is a free online resource...

Oct 19, 2021 | Beth Hess

COVID-19 After Action Review Toolkit

IPC C Du Page
  • Infection Prevention and Control Champions

Member Spotlight: DuPage County HAI Team Recognized as...

NACCHO recognizes the DuPage County Health Department (Illinois), Healthcare...

Oct 19, 2021 | Jaclyn Abramson

Member Spotlight: DuPage County HAI Team Recognized as...

Justice
  • Press Release

NACCHO Requests Protection of Public Health Department...

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) sent a...

Oct 18, 2021 | Theresa Spinner

NACCHO Requests Protection of Public Health Department...

Back to Top