emergency workers Improving hospitals' ability to accommodate a huge influx of patients during a disaster is one aim of the federal grant received by UC Davis Health System.

UC Davis Health System was among five recipients nationwide of $5-million grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve hospitals' and communities' ability to prepare and respond to disasters and emergencies.

The department made the selections via a competitive process aimed at improving hospital surge capacity, emergency care system capability, and community and hospital preparedness for public-health emergencies.

"The program found five emergency health care partnership projects that can serve as best practices examples for the nation's public health-community," said W. Craig Vanderwagen, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

The principal investigator for the UC Davis Health System project is Christian Sandrock, an assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine who specializes in disaster preparedness and responding to emerging infectious diseases, terrorism and other threats to public health. As medical director of the California Preparedness Education Network, he develops educational materials, primarily for providers in rural, border, inner-city and underserved areas of the state. A former medical director of the Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program for the state of California and current medical adviser to the state Emergency Medical Services Authority, he contributes his expertise to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program, and many other Homeland Security projects. He is working with the California Department of Health Services and the Emergency Medical Services Authority in pandemic influenza and other infectious disease outbreak.

"UC Davis Health System occupies a crucial, essential role in preparing for and responding to emergencies in the Sacramento region," said Sandrock. "This grant will be of tremendous help in strengthening our capabilities in a number of different areas, which in turn will make us a better resource for the entire community."

"UC Davis Health System occupies a crucial, essential role in preparing for and responding to emergencies in the Sacramento region."
— Christian Sandrock, assistant professor and medical director of the California Preparedness Education Network

At UC Davis Health System, the grant funds will be used to support several initiatives, including:

  • Implementing uniform standards and protocols

  • Electronically tracking the location and movement of patients

  • Expanding the reach and effectiveness of telemedicine

  • Providing the seamless exchange of health-care data across platforms through standardized informatics

  • Testing the ability to meet the needs of children, burn patients and others whose first language is not English

  • Creating computer models of the health system's disaster-management process to identify strengths and weaknesses

The UC Davis Center for Health and Technology plays a major role in emergency preparedness for the region. A world leader in bringing together telecommunications and information technology to improve health care delivery and provider education, the center includes well-established programs in telemedicine, distance education and medical informatics, as well as a Telemedicine Learning Center. These programs provide specialty services throughout California to more than 100 rural hospitals and clinics and offer easy access to continuing medical and nursing education for rural clinicians, administrators and other health care providers. Live, interactive video-conferencing, interactive web casting and on-demand video streaming are available for more than 500 courses.

The other recipients of the grants are Children's Hospital Los Angeles; MedStar Health, Inc., Washington Hospital Center, Washington, D.C.; Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indianapolis, Ind.; and Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, R.I.