Health Center Stories: Handling Disease Outbreaks

Aug 14, 2018 | Nurse-Led Care News |

In recognition of National Health Center Week, we are sharing stories from five health centers across the U.S. and their advice for emergency preparedness. These health centers learned from responding to real outbreaks of influenza, HIV, and pertussis about the importance of emergency preparedness.


PrimaryOne Health

PrimaryOne Health has a network of 10 urban health centers in Columbus, Ohio that serve 45,600 people.

The H1N1 preparation here in central Ohio focused on collaboration with the health department and the emergency preparedness team in the fall of 2009. Because we had developed such strong relationships, one of our facilities became a hub where equipment, tools and other emergency items could be utilized in the event of an outbreak. So, we were involved with the city and the county in working diligently to get the right preparedness supplies, including items needed for communication and other supplies, like preventative uniforms that staff would use if we had a patient with H1N1 in our care.
Dr. M. Buhari Mohammed, Senior Director of Quality Improvement & Clinical Support


Pasadena Health Center

Pasadena Health Center is an urban health center in Pasadena, Texas that serves 4,982 people.

The best book I have is The Army Blue Book. I have that on site and I've given it to all my doctors, so they have it. It's got everything in it: how to diagnose the disease, what the disease looks like, and it includes what medications can be used to treat potential exposures. Don’t expect your doctors to remember everything. Build a reference library for disaster management.
John Sweitzer, Chief Executive Officer


LifeSpring Health Systems

LifeSpring Health Systems has a network of 10 suburban and rural health centers in Jeffersonville, Indiana that serve 8,500 people.

My advice would be just to call [community partners] and share what you’re doing in the community and ask them how you can be involved in emergency preparedness planning. For our health department, I called them one day, told them about our new clinic and asked if I could come and talk to their staff about it. Out of that initial call, a really great partnership has grown. We send nurses to their syringe service program and they share their mobile clinic with us.
Beth Keeney, Senior Vice President for Community Health Initiatives & Chief Operating Officer


La Clinica

La Clinica has a network of 18 urban health centers and one mobile unit in Medford Oregon that serve 25,000 people.

It's really great to have key people that go back and forth who are meeting on a regular basis about preparedness. With vaccines, we've actually physically practiced going to the county and picking up vaccines or medication, even outside of an emergency. We just did this a couple of months ago. There were ten of us and we walked around and talked through what we would do, what we would papers we would sign, what forms we would get. I feel that the number one downfall in any of these emergencies is lack of communication and role confusion. We've hammered through a lot of that. It's just communication. It's knowing where you are on the chain and staying there, staying in your lane.
Becky Sherman, Director of Nursing


Health Center Stories was developed by Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium, a PHMC affiliate, and the National Network of Public Health Institutes, through Cooperative Agreement #CDC-RFA-OT13-1302 with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Together, these organizations and other strategic partners are leveraging community health centers and clinics to improve national public health preparedness efforts. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here for more information on emergency preparedness.



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About The Author

Justin Gero, MS was the Senior Manager of Public Affairs at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium. He  was with the organization from 2016-2021.

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