21 Sep Outbreak Response & the Leadership Needed to Manage It
Chair, SHEA/CDC Outbreak Response Training Program Advisory Panel
Just the word “Ebola” can put patients and healthcare facilities on high alert. Outbreaks of pathogens of high consequence can occur with little forewarning, and the timing of the next major event – whether novel influenza or another infection – is unknown. The 2014-15 Ebola experience stressed healthcare facilities and placed enormous demands on providers. It also served as a warning bell that we can all be better prepared for the next infectious disease outbreak. Hospitals also need to strengthen collaboration with healthcare colleagues (including public health and emergency preparedness partners). While healthcare epidemiologists lead efforts to prevent the spread of infections in facilities every day, they may not be formally trained in incident management, or practiced in working in a hospital’s emergency response framework.
Through a contract with CDC, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) has created the multi-faceted Outbreak Response Training Program (ORTP) to address this need. The ORTP includes in-person training meetings, online simulation exercises, an upcoming expert guidance document and companion tool kits, and a webinar series. All of these are designed to provide healthcare epidemiologists with the knowledge and tools for preparedness and response to infectious diseases outbreaks. The program covers incident management structures, how those structures are used and how they interact from the federal to the facility level, infection prevention strategies, practical approaches and implementation, as well as skills for communications, relationship building, conflict management, and responding to the public and the media. ORTP components will be rolled out in 2017 and 2018 and are available at no cost. The training, skill building, and preparedness efforts happening now will protect patients and healthcare personnel when the next crisis hits.
We hope healthcare epidemiologists and their infection prevention team members will take advantage of these knowledge and skill building opportunities