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Secretary of Health Unveils Pennsylvania's New Portable Hospitals in Lehigh County
Date:5/11/2009

Hospitals Bolster State's Ability to Provide Medical Care During Disasters

OREFIELD, Pa., May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health Secretary Everette James today toured one of Pennsylvania's new portable hospitals and underscored the important role the systems will play in providing medical care to people who become ill or are injured during an emergency.

"The current 2009 Novel Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak is a timely reminder of how important it is to be prepared for public health emergencies," said Secretary James. "Portable hospitals are a key part of Pennsylvania's preparedness plans. These systems are flexible and can be used in areas that don't have hospitals, to support existing hospitals or as alternate care sites. And, because they can be operational within two hours of an emergency notification, enable us to quickly provide life-saving treatment."

The commonwealth received funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to purchase eight, 50-bed portable hospital systems that are packaged as tow-behind trailer systems. The hospitals are positioned in strategic locations across Pennsylvania.

The systems can function in a variety of capacities including triage, acute care and inpatient treatment. They can also be adapted for use as first aid stations, field hospitals, mass immunization or negative pressure isolation units for suspected infectious disease outbreaks.

The portable hospital tent systems can be inflated in five minutes by six trained people. Portable hospital staffing will be complemented by various volunteer organizations, including Emergency Medical Services Strike Teams, the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Pennsylvania or SERVPA, Medical Reserve Corps, and State Medical Response Teams.

"These systems would be of little use to us if we didn't have the volunteers in place to deploy them. We're grateful to them for taking on this important responsibility," James added.

The secretary made his remarks during a visit to the Eastern PA EMS Council, which hosted an all-day event to train volunteers to set up the hospitals. Additional May training events are scheduled in Montgomery, Allegheny and Centre counties.

The portable hospitals were purchased by the Office of Public Health Preparedness, which supports the Department of Health's efforts to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from all acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

To learn more about health preparedness for Pennsylvanians, visit www.health.state.pa.us.

    CONTACT:  Stacy Kriedeman
              (717) 787-1783


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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