Hospitals can't help it if a disaster hits, but they can help how they respond to it. Preparing hospitals to respond to disasters is the goal of a new resource developed by the Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). The online compendium features a list of disaster preparedness resources to aid public health agencies and communities.

The compendium covers 24 categories, many of them helpful to facility and environmental services managers, such as patient movement, situational awareness, hazard consultation, mass care, decontamination, and safety and security.

"HHS and our federal partners offer an array of products and services to support communities in emergency situations, but sometimes finding what's available and how to access those resources can be challenging," states Nicole Lurie, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response. "With the compendium, our partners know what resources they can count on when they need them most and, importantly, how to request them."

The resource comes shortly after HHS stated it will award more than $840 million in cooperative agreement funds to health departments across the country to improve emergency preparedness efforts. The funds include $611 million set aside for Public Health Emergency Preparedness programs and $228.5 million dedicated to the Hospital Preparedness Program.

The informational and monetary resources address the need for greater support and collaboration amidst the challenging circumstances hospitals have encountered over the last few years.

Last year, the White House released a report, "Primary Protection: Enhancing Health Care Resilience for a Changing Climate," that details intense weather trends in the United States and specifies areas hospitals should address to stay prepared for adverse events that are outside of their control. The report states that globally, the recorded number of weather-related hazard events that adversely affect human populations is on the rise.

But weather and environment aren't the only major concerns facing health care systems. The growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and worries of highly contagious diseases spreading to the United States have led to other ASPR programs, such as the National Ebola Training and Education Center.

It is hoped that the efforts will be effective in supporting the nation's health care systems as they provide stability to their communities every day, not just in the case of an emergency.