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Hospitals and laboratories get $1.36 from feds.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt recently announced a second influx of $1.3 billion to help state and local hospitals respond to mass casualty terrorism and other medical crises.

"Our ability to respond effectively to public health emergencies is an important part of securing our homeland," Leavitt said.

Last year, HHS provided an equal amount to the states, territories and four major metropolitan areas to bolster preparedness. The second allotment will be spread to even more cities to upgrade their infectious disease surveillance, enhance the readiness of hospitals to deal with large numbers of casualties, expand public health laboratory capabilities and improve disease reporting between hospitals and local health departments. The HHS' Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and Health Resources and Services Administration will be distributing the money.

HHS also is providing $471 million for states specifically to develop surge capacity to deal with mass casualty events. This includes the expansion of hospital beds, development of isolation capacity, hiring health care personnel, establishing hospital-based pharmaceutical caches and providing mental health services. Funds can be used for trauma and burn care, communications equipment and personal protective gear.

HHS will provide resources for the early warning infectious disease surveillance program within the CDC that is specifically aimed at states bordering Canada and Mexico.

The CDC also may increase the number of state laboratories with certified "Level One" capability for testing chemical agents. Currently, there are only CDC-certified laboratories to assist with chemical testing in California, Michigan, New Mexico, New York and Virginia. Chemical samples are able to reach a laboratory for analysis within eight hours. Up to five more may be selected for this program.

Another CDC effort, the Cities Readiness Initiative, will continue in the 21 pilot cities, boosted by a $10 million increase. In addition, 15 other metropolitan areas will enter the CRI program.
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Title Annotation:SECURITY BEAT: Homeland Defense Briefs
Author:Pappalardo, Joe
Publication:National Defense
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:308
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