As public health officials grapple with strategies to respond to natural disasters and disease outbreaks, they face a host of challenges, from misinformation on social media and some communities’ lack of trust in government to the definition of what being “prepared” means.
That is why engaging with community leaders on emergency preparedness is especially important, two public health leaders told AHCJ members in a recent webcast. Continue reading
Photo: DIFD via Flickr
Public health emergencies often happen — from a severe flu season or measles outbreak to wildfires or a severe weather event such as a hurricane. Count on them to be a mainstay of the health beat.
Experts in health security continue to debate the readiness of the health system for emergencies. At a July 19 National Academies of Sciences event, Robert Kadlec, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), said that he believes the while the public and private sectors have plans that “have addressed a lot of continuity of operations and classical preparedness” there remains more to be done. Continue reading
For the fifth time in its history, the World Health Organization declared on July 17, that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a public health emergency of international concern.
While this doesn’t mean that anyone in the U.S. is at any greater risk of contracting Ebola today than yesterday, it is a political flare to warn the world that Ebola will be spreading around the globe from northeastern DRC, says Helen Branswell with Stat. Continue reading
Over the past year, Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) at Vox has been collecting emergency department bills from around the country and has reported a number of stories based on them.
Her stories included a patient who went to an in-network ER and was still billed nearly $8,000 and a major ER that – at the time – didn’t participate in the networks of any private health insurers, resulting in unexpected bills.
In April, Anna Wolfe, who covers health care for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, started reporting on what appeared to be staggeringly high bills for using the emergency room at the Batson Children’s Hospital, in Jackson. The hospital is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the only academic medical center in the state.
Parents who brought their children to the ER were being charged thousands of dollars in unreasonable emergency room facility fees that do not match the level of care received, Wolfe reports. Since that article was published April 15, Wolfe has continued to cover the complex ways the hospital calculates its charges. In the bills Wolfe reviewed, the hospital adds facility fees for ER visits, fees that are based on the level of care administered. Continue reading
Older adults can be especially vulnerable to natural disasters, be it a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or the recent eruptions from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. On top of health concerns, they often are socially isolated and lack good transportation options that can slow their response before, during and after a disaster.