The Region 7 Regional Disaster Health Response Ecosystem (RDHRE)
Supports Critical Information Sharing Among State Partners During COVID-19 Surge
In February 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that rapid and effective response efforts would require collaboration across states within a given region and would involve multiple disaster response organizations. The Region 7 RDHRE, one of three current demonstration sites under the
Regional Disaster Health Response System (RDHRS) framework, quickly recognized the need for information sharing to support Nebraska and much of the Midwest’s response to the COVID-19 surge. In alignment with the goals of the RDHRS, the Region 7 RDHRE organized communication between health care organizations and emergency response teams, addressing surge capacity and establishing partnerships and informed practices that are beneficial for a future response.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Region 7 RDHRE set up recurring meetings with public health directors and health departments to connect on a variety of topics related to the ongoing COVID-19 response. During the Fall 2020 surge in the Midwest, the Region 7 RDHRE initiated and led bi-weekly meetings with regional hospital association and state public health personnel to share leading practices related to the pandemic response. To address the need for more efficient, real-time exchange of information, the Region 7 RDHRE launched a standardized,
statewide information management system in early 2019. This platform compiles essential elements of information (EEI) submitted by health care facilities, which the state health department then retrieves and uploads into a system for federal requests. In 2021, the Region 7 RDHRE engaged other states and RDHRS stakeholders in Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota) to create a broader and more robust information system within the platform. As of August 30, 2021, the statewide information management system contains 118 interrelated incidents, including unique disaster incidents, such as cyber, fires, and severe weather, and incidents related to the challenges posted by the Delta variant, which have been submitted by varying agencies, hospitals, and emergency management organizations. These documented incidents consist of over 14,000 shared log data entries and over 1,200 shared documents.
ASPR’s RDHRS funding enabled the Region 7 RDHRE to prioritize these collaborative efforts and engage disaster response stakeholders from across the Midwest. Additionally, RDHRS funding enhanced situational awareness and surge capacity, while expanding partnerships between key preparedness and response stakeholders— two of the core capabilities of the RDHRS. Before the Region VII RDHRE was established, there was limited collaboration between state hospital associations and state public health. The Region 7 RDHRE built multiple relationships and leveraged them to enhance shared situational awareness. This effort enhanced relationships and coordination across state lines and involved multiple stakeholders such as state health systems, long-term care associations, state emergency management services, and public health organizations. These collaborative efforts created a bridge for ASPR Region 7 leaders to engage with “boots-on-the ground” stakeholders in each state and view a comprehensive picture of surge in the health care system. By establishing bi-weekly webinars, the Region 7 RDHRE was able to provide a forum to discuss challenges, mitigation strategies, and share response leading practices, all while enhancing relationships and coordination efforts between vital disaster response organizations. To learn more about the Region 7 RDHRE and its efforts in responding to COVID-19, navigate to the
RDHRS COVID-19 response webpage on aspr.hhs.gov and/or the
Region 7 RDHRE's webpage.