UPMC | University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
EXTRA! - A biweekly newsletter for staff of UPMC
Friday, Feb. 10, 2006
Volume 17, No. 3
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Summary Plan DescriptionsArchivesUpcoming EventsResearch StudiesUPMC PerksSubmit a Story

Additional Articles
2005 W-2 forms contain updated EIN

Black History Month, February 2006

WPIC opens Integrated Health and Aging Program

Supply Chain Management launches updated Infonet site

Save on office supplies

UPMC honored as one of
the nation’s top minority business suppliers

Earn extra cash

2006 My Health screenings

You can handle stress with My Health

Watch your mail: Important UPMC Savings Plan news

Change announced for Savings Plan foreign fund

Girls & Women in Sports Festival 2006

Super Colon tour headed
to Pittsburgh

Athletic Trainer River Run
set for March 5

News Briefs
New chair named for
    Department of Medicine
Trunk show benefits
   Cancer Centers


UPMC to establish Strategic Biodefense System
for the region

In times of disaster, whether natural or manmade, communication is key. In the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it became clear that emergency response organizations, hospitals, and health agencies currently do not have efficient and clear means of communicating critical information among themselves or to the general public. UPMC is going to change that.

Mr. Romoff and Rep. MurthaAt a press conference on Jan. 26, Jeffrey Romoff, president, UPMC, announced that the health system received $8.5 million through the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, of which Representative John Murtha is a ranking member, to build the Strategic Biodefense Emergency Operations and Communications System (SBS).

The SBS will make Pittsburgh a model for the rest of the nation on how to efficiently connect and provide up-to-the-minute information to health care providers, the National Guard, and local governments in the event of large-scale bioterrorist attacks, pandemics, or other major emergencies that could result in serious public health consequences.

"The unprecedented biodefense system will place western Pennsylvania’s bioterrorism preparedness initiatives among the top tier in the United States. It will solve a national problem by providing a template to efficiently organize disaster responses so that medical resources are directed where they are most needed,” said Mr. Romoff.

Strengthening communication
In the event of a large-scale bioterrorist attack, decision-makers across many areas, including the Pennsylvania National Guard, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, elected officials, hospital and public leaders, and emergency responders will have short windows of time to make crucial decisions. The SBS will help synthesize and organize data from disparate sources in ways that allow the National Guard and civic leaders to determine the best possible distribution plan for scarce medicine and supplies in a region, the most rational use of hospital beds and staff in the face of unprecedented numbers of patients, and the extent of disease.

"This system will combine UPMC’s commitment and ability to provide top quality health care and information technology in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region with the substantial public health and emergency resources of the city and region. The result will be organizations with the ability to make decisions, communicate, and take coordinated actions across a region during a crisis,” said Tara O’Toole, MD, chief executive officer, UPMC Center for Biosecurity.

The SBS also will include a vital public information component to share critical information with the citizens of the region. The biodefense Web portal element will provide the public with a user-friendly website that will contain critical information for coping with a disaster and its aftermath. Personal and business disaster preparedness information also will be available through this portal.

Training first responders
Another highlight of the project will be innovative training programs for first responders called the Biodefense Schoolhouse. Medical research and technology development in the field of disaster medicine are rapidly and constantly evolving to meet the challenges of the changing environment. Therefore, the provision of the latest information tailored to the civilian and military first responder community is of vital importance and will be built into this system.

"This project will develop a much-needed model for a comprehensive disaster-response system that can be used in cities across the nation, and will showcase this region as the center for a complex effort that requires innovative thinking, the incorporation of technology, and the spirit of cooperation,” said Rep. Murtha.

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