Public Health and Healthcare Systems Preparedness

Public health, healthcare, and emergency management are related, overlapping systems contributing to national health security. By integrating these systems, local health departments (LHDs) can now work with healthcare and emergency management systems on a daily basis and support each other when scaling up to handle increased requirements and demands while preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a public health emergency or event. Furthermore, this integration of systems will enhance a community’s resilience without duplicating services under different organizations.

Within the preparedness portfolio, NACCHO works on a variety of topics and projects that integrate public health, healthcare, and emergency management systems. More specifically, NACCHO focuses on efforts that strengthen healthcare coalitions and regional planning alliances, build on and improve routine services and systems, ensure that integrated systems can scale up to meet the access and functional needs of at-risk individuals, strengthen health security workforce education, and increase the number of trained workers and volunteers.

As the older adult population continues to rise, preparing this population for a public health emergency or event can lead to barriers for LHDs. For example, characteristics of older adults such as impaired mobility, weakened sensory awareness, multiple chronic diseases, and social economic limitations can put the older adult population at a greater risk of illness or death during an emergency. With a growing need to better coordinate the way we prepare for and address the needs of older adult populations, NACCHO continues to research and develop resources that can be utilized by both LHDs and their partners.

Similarly, in the event of an emergency, populations with functional and access needs may require additional assistance to get the information and resources they need to stay safe and healthy. Medical countermeasure (MCM) planners have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that a “whole community” approach is taken when developing their response plans in order to ensure that everyone has equitable access to live-saving interventions. Taking the appropriate steps to identify the specific needs of your jurisdiction's population and developing strategies to account for those needs are essential. For resources to assist with MCM planning for populations with functional and access needs, visit:

Administrative preparedness refers to the ability of a health department to modify and expedite its administrative and financial processes, such as procurement, contracting, and hiring, to support operational needs during an emergency. NACCHO is working with LHDs to increase awareness of administrative preparedness requirements, share promising practices, and encourage evaluation of administrative preparedness plans.

NACCHO developed the following resources to for LHDs developing and implementing administrative preparedness plans:

A resilient and well-trained workforce is one that can transition from normal operations to emergency operations and back again in a way that minimizes employee health risk, stress reactions, and burn-out. NACCHO has a number of training opportunities and initiatives that strengthen both the public health preparedness workforce and volunteers committed to improving the public health and resiliency of their communities. These trainings and initiatives include:

Project Public Health Ready

Project Public Health Ready (PPHR) is a criteria-based training and recognition program that assesses LHD capacity and capability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies. PPHR aims to protect the public's health and strengthen the public health infrastructure by equipping LHDs with sustainable tools to plan, train, and exercise using a continuous quality improvement model. By working with response partners to develop and enhance their plans and processes to meet the PPHR criteria, agencies strengthen working relationships and improve their integration within the preparedness community. To learn more about PPHR, click here.

Roadmap to Ready

Roadmap to Ready is a training and mentoring program to help new emergency preparedness coordinators navigate the complex landscape of public health preparedness. The program provides new preparedness coordinators with the knowledge, skills, connections, and resources they need to successfully prepare their local jurisdictions for new and emerging threats. NACCHO designed the program for preparedness coordinators at LHDs who have been in their roles for less than two years. To learn more about Roadmap to Ready, click here.

The Medical Reserve Corps

NACCHO works to increase awareness and understanding of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program; promote, support, and build capacity within the MRC network; enhance cooperation between the MRC Program Office and local/state/federal authorities to support and increase MRC capacities at the local level; and expand the efforts and capabilities of local MRC units to support their community-based public health, preparedness and response initiatives. To learn more about the MRC program, click here.

Psychological First Aid for Leaders

NACCHO developed the Psychological First Aid for Leaders (PFA-L) training. This free 90 minute interactive online training video helps leaders understand and address their staff’s stress risks and reactions to create a resilient workplace. PFA-L is based on the principles of the Psychological First Aid which is an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, families, and responders in the aftermath of a disaster. The purpose of this course is to:

  • Introduce leaders to the concept of Psychological First Aid as a leadership tool to build workforce resilience
  • Educate leaders about the core components of Psychological First Aid
  • Provide an opportunity for leaders to apply Psychological First Aid within scenario-based exercises

Healthcare coalitions (HCCs) play a critical role in providing and linking healthcare and public health preparedness and response capabilities. Local health departments often are key players in coordinating and collaborating with healthcare organizations, emergency management agencies, and other jurisdictional partners to plan for plan for public health emergencies. NACCHO provides resources to support local health department involvement in HCCs, conducts research on HCC response best practices, and develops policy to advocate for the advancement of HCC planning across the country.

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