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AHRQ Report Recommends Use of Existing Call Centers to Expand Communications in Public Health Emergencies
Date:10/25/2007

ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today released Adapting Community Call Centers for Crisis Support: A Model for Home- based Care and Monitoring, a new report that recommends expanding the capabilities of poison control centers, nurse advice lines, drug information centers and health agency hotlines to assist persons at home or in public shelters in the event of public health emergencies such as biological attacks or pandemic influenza.

The report and its four appendices include strategies for using these types of community call centers in the event of aerosol anthrax attacks or the outbreak of pandemic influenza, plague or food contamination.

"Community call centers have long been a credible source that people can turn to for health care information," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Leveraging these existing resources will allow clinics, outpatient departments and emergency departments to devote their attention to caring for those most in need of help."

"All public health emergencies begin at the local level," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response RADM W. Craig Vanderwagen, M.D., whose office funded the report. "While preparedness is a process that is never completed, reports such as this demonstrate how we can continue to improve the community health services provided during emergencies."

The report was developed under contract by Denver Health, a member of the AHRQ-funded Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks (ACTION) project. Guidance was provided by a national advisory panel of experts in emergency call center services, public health and epidemiology, emergency preparedness planning, health informatics and other fields.

The strategies and tools are designed to help community call centers respond to callers concerned about their health risks; collect dise
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
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