- The HHS awarded a total of $21 million to 13 hospitals to serve as region experts on readiness and response efforts to combat infectious diseases caused by special pathogens, including COVID-19, Ebola and monkeypox, the agency said Monday.
- Three new healthcare facilities were tapped to serve as Regional Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Centers: Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They join 10 centers already in the network.
- The funding is expected to help the hospitals prepare for medical surge capacity and treat patients with infectious diseases caused by special pathogens during public health emergencies.
The HHS’ effort to bolster regional hubs in the National Special Pathogen System is a step toward strengthening the country’s preparedness to combat infectious disease outbreaks, which has come under frequent criticism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is headed for a reorganization after being faulted for mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic, while the public health response to the monkeypox outbreak has been faulted as too slow. Before monkeypox and COVID-19, the HHS Office of Inspector General concluded that hospitals were unprepared for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
“Our responses to Ebola, COVID-19, and Monkeypox have highlighted a need to increase our readiness to respond to these threats," Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O'Connell said in a statement announcing the new hospital funding.
Regional Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Centers are hospitals with greater capability and capacity to care for patients with highly infectious diseases. They are continuously ready to care for a special pathogen patient medically evacuated from overseas or diagnosed in the U.S.
The new funding is intended to help the hospitals integrate clinical and operational expertise into existing preparedness and response structures at the regional, state and local levels. Each of the three new centers in the program will receive $3 million to service as regional hubs.
The 10 existing special pathogen treatment centers will receive $1.2 million each. They are: Massachusetts General Hospital, New York City Health and Hospitals/HHC Bellevue Hospital Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Emory University Hospital and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta/Egleston Children's Hospital, University of Minnesota Medical Center, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Nebraska Medical Center, Denver Health & Hospital Authority, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington.
Meanwhile, a Senate funding bill that advanced last month cut more than $27 billion in aid for COVID-19 and monkeypox programs.