Northwest Regional Healthcare Coalition

In 2017, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response (CDPHE_OEPR) established the Colorado Regional Healthcare Coalition (HCC) collaborative network of healthcare organizations and their respective public and private sector response partners who will serve as a multiagency coordinating group to assist with preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities for healthcare organizations. Because NWCCOG already served as the Fiscal agent and host for the Northwest All Hazards Emergency Management grant program, it made sense for it to do the same for this newly established entity in 2017. In the Summer of 2017, NWCCOG signed the contract agreeing to the deliverables established by CDPHE for the HCC grant program and proceeded to contract with a program coordinator.

HCCs are the primary method to prepare for and provide support, when activated as part of the Emergency Support Function 8 (ESF 8) system, for incidents among diverse HCOs within a geographic region. Tiered, scalable, and flexible coordination among varied HCOs will facilitate more effective, efficient, and timely situational awareness and coordination of resources, among the HCC’s HCOs, resulting in an overall improved healthcare emergency response.

To advance all-hazards preparedness and national health security, promote responsible stewardship of Federal funds, and reduce burden, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have aligned ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grants. Prior to being managed through ASPR in 2006, HPP grants were managed by HRSA after 9/11 when the program was originated. The aligned program serves as an opportunity to continue coordinated preparedness efforts between healthcare and public health through healthcare coalitions, originally initiated in previous grant cycles. The development and integration of reporting for Healthcare Coalitions is a key requirement in the new five-year HPP-PHEP grant program.

The CDPHE_OEPR program is aligned with the Colorado Nine All-Hazard Regions. As such, extensive improvements in regional-based public health and medical preparedness, planning, and response coordination has been made over the past 15 years in Colorado. For the most part, the natural patient catchment areas are contained within the regional boundaries; however, patient referral routes in Colorado largely, radiate from all parts of the state to the Denver metropolitan area, making HCC border alignment by patient referral patterns extremely difficult. Therefore, to ensure continuity of effort, planning efficiencies, and coordinated response efforts, Colorado is using the existing nine All Hazard Emergency Management Regions to form the basis of the Colorado HCC Regions. Some of the Nine HCC Regions may further divided into sub-committees or sub-HCCs to account for excessive size and/or geographical features (such as mountain ranges), unique challenges (multi-national tourism destinations), or large concentrations of population/partner organizations). Each of Colorado’s Nine Regional HCCs will have participation by a minimum of two acute care hospitals, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), public health agencies, and emergency management authorities. Each of these Nine Regional HCCs will have the common purpose to serve as a collaborative network of healthcare organizations (HCOs) to support healthcare preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities.

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Steve Hilley

Steve Hilley

NWRHCC Clinical Advisor
Steve started working in the pre-hospital arena in 1979 as an active member/EMT for the Summit County Water Rescue Team in Summit County, Colorado for 10 years. After moving to Denver in 1989, Steve worked as a full-time E.M.T. while pursuing his Nursing Degree. Graduating from nursing school in 1993,...
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The HPP-PHEP grant guidance defines Healthcare Coalitions (HCCs) as a sub-state regional healthcare system of emergency preparedness activities involving member organizations. Colorado further defines HCCs as a collaborative network of healthcare organizations and their respective public and private sector response partners that serve as a multiagency coordinating group to support healthcare related preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities. In Colorado, each Regional HCC must consist of a minimum of four contiguous counties; have a core membership of at least two Hospitals, EMS Agencies, Emergency Management Organizations, and Local Public Health Agencies; and have of multiple coordinating partner organizations.

The role of HCCs is to communicate and coordinate. HCCs should not replace or interfere with official command and control structures authorized by state and local authorities and emergency management. Through effective planning integration, each HCC aspires to be recognized by its regional partners as having a formally defined and exercised role that is utilized under ESF 8 during incident response and integrated into local, regional, and state emergency operations plans to facilitate the communication and coordination of HCO response during disasters. HCCs should support ESF 8 authorities by providing multi‐healthcare agency coordination in order to provide advice on decisions made by incident management regarding information and resource coordination for healthcare organizations. This includes either a response support role as part of a multi‐agency coordination group to assist incident management (area command or unified command) with decisions, or through coordinated plans to guide decisions regarding HCO support.

In the past, Colorado funded Hospitals, Behavioral Health, and Medical Reserve Corps directly with funds from the HPP grant. This direct funding allowed CDPHE to pinpoint funding directly to those entities and rapidly build capability, establish equipment and supply caches, and lay the foundation for those partners to plan and prepare for incidents that would potentially adversely impact the community’s ability to respond to and recover from incidents. Now, the focus has shifted from building capability (purchasing equipment/supplies) for the hospitals, to building a planning and response capability that reaches beyond the doors of the hospital and into the community. By continuing to be an essential part of the HCC, Hospitals, Behavioral Health providers, and Medical Reserve Corps organizations, will be able to help guide other organizations to be better prepared in the future while continuing to improve their own preparedness programs with the help, support, and funding provided by the HCC. According to direction provided by ASPR, HCCs are groups of individual health care and response organizations (e.g., hospitals, EMS, emergency management organizations, public health agencies, etc.) in a defined geographic location that play a critical role in developing health care delivery system preparedness and response capabilities. HCCs serve as multiagency coordination groups that support and integrate with ESF 8 activities in the context of incident command system (ICS) responsibilities. HCCs coordinate select and appropriate activities among HCOs and other stakeholders in their communities; these entities comprise HCC members that actively contribute to HCC strategic planning, operational planning and response, information sharing, and resource coordination and management. As a result, HCCs collaborate to ensure each member has what it needs to respond to emergencies and planned events, including medical equipment and supplies, real-time information, communication systems, and educated and trained health care personnel. The value of participating in an HCC is not limited to emergency preparedness and response. Day-to-day benefits may include:

  • Meeting regulatory and accreditation requirements
  • Enhancing purchasing power (e.g., bulk purchasing agreements)
  • Accessing clinical and non-clinical expertise
  • Networking among peers
  • Sharing leading practices
  • Developing interdependent relationships
  • Reducing risk
  • Addressing other community needs, including meeting requirements for tax exemption through community benefit

Funding from ASPR, received by CDPHE_OEPR, designated to support HCCs will be provided to each of the designated fiscal agents to reimburse HCCs for expenses associated with meeting grant deliverables. CDPHE_OEPR will provide HCCs an accounting of funds received from ASPR showing the total amount received; the state indirect and the total amounts OEPR retains for administrative expenses, centrally procured services (such as-but not limited to, EMSystems; Colorado Volunteer Management system; and Colorado Hospital Association and Colorado Community Health Network services); and the amounts allocated to each of the Nine Regional HCCs. Appendices “A-I” provide estimates of HCC funding for the 2017-2018 budget year. The figures provided for each HCC are only estimates and are subject to the availability of funds, negotiation of centrally procured services, and the application of the state indirect rate. Actual funding amounts will be provided to the HCCs when a notice of award is received for this grant opportunity.

Additional information, resources, and frequently asked questions are available on the CDPHE website.

Resources are also available on the ASPR TRACIE Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway.

The Coloardo NonProfit Association may be a good source of information to HCCs wishing to establish as non-profit organizations.

The Colorado Secretary of State Office is the official source for information on establishing non-profit organizations.