Ohio's modular Acute Care Centers ready to provide medical help during emergencies, disasters

Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and Ohio Department of Health place three new centers into service

DAYTON, Ohio-In the event of a large-scale emergency such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack, hospitals and health care facilities may struggle to meet the immediate surge in demand for vital medical services, especially if their sites and staff are also affected. Emergencies affecting remote areas or complicating transport of patients can also present serious logistical problems.

To address these challenges and ensure care providers are prepared to respond quickly and effectively in times of crisis, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) collaborated with the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine to establish the Modular Emergency Medical System (MEMS). The primary purpose of the MEMS program is to develop and maintain a statewide network of mobile Acute Care Centers (ACC) and Neighborhood Emergency Help Centers (NEHC). The ACCs and NEHCs provide support to hospitals, primary care offices and other health care systems during emergencies.

"We are proud to play a role in spearheading this innovative program to improve the safety and security of all Ohioans," said Glenn Hamilton, M.D., M.S.M., professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine with the medical school and board chair of the school's National Center for Medical Readiness (NCMR). "MEMS places our state on the cutting edge of modern emergency preparedness, disaster response planning and civil medical readiness."

"Ohio's public health and medical professionals are committed to helping protect and improve the health of the state's residents every day. This becomes even more crucial during a crisis when hospital resources may be strained," said ODH Director Alvin D. Jackson, M.D. "As Ohio's doctor and one who provided medical help to migrant workers in the field, I understand the importance of having mobile medical supplies and facilities."

Each NEHC can provide triage services and basic medical treatment for up to 1,000 patients per day, freeing hospitals to focus on more serious conditions rather than case management or non-critical care. Each ACC can provide inpatient care for up to 250 people simultaneously, including hydration, bronchial therapy and antibiotics. Both types of centers are designed for rapid deployment and self-sufficiency, enabling them to reach emergency sites quickly and provide vital care during the critical first 72 hours following an incident.

In 2006, ODH contracted with the medical school to pilot the MEMS program by creating and testing ACCs and NEHCs. Building on the success of those initial efforts, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, the NCMR provided ODH with three new ACCs during an event at the NCMR headquarters in Dayton.

The ACCs will be deployed to sites across Ohio. The MEMS will maintain a total of seven centers capable of serving up to 1,750 people at a time. The ACCs are strategically placed throughout the state to allow for timely response to incidents wherever they occur.

Funding for the program comes from ODH and includes grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Editor's note: For more information or to schedule an interview contact: Cindy Young, Marketing and Communications, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, (937) 775-4587 or cindy.young@wright.edu.

For more information, contact Marketing and Communications.

Last edited on 12/15/2014.