The hospital describes, in writing, how it will respond to an influx of potentially infectious patients.
Note: One acceptable response is to decide not to accept patients.
In the event of a declared Public Health Emergency, UTMB will follow guidance and regulations issued related to the healthcare services that can be provided. In general, UTMB Health System Infection Control will assess the risk and if needed, UTMB will activate the Health System; and/or UTMB Command Team. The Incident Commander’s Command Staff will include Medical/Technical Specialists to include infection control and infectious disease specialists. The Command Team also includes basic science experts in infectious diseases, and biosafety specialists.
UTMB would follow federal and state guidance on census reduction and transferring non-infectious patients to long-term care facilities (Immediate Bed Availability) if appropriate waivers are issued by the federal government. Alternative Care spaces would be set up to make additional space available for an influx of patients and to separate infectious and non-infectious patients. The Command Team would decide on the ability to continue to provide elective procedures to non-infectious patients.
The Command Team would establish a Task Force of UTMB technical and medical experts to establish polices specific to the disease outbreak. Topics could include but are not limited to:
- Droplet Control
- PPE Use/decon/reuse
- Work From Home
- Emergency Sick Leave
- Treatment Protocols
- Staffing and Workforce Protection
- Staff Education
- Staff Child Care
- Emergency Staffing
- Use of Volunteers/Medical Reserve Corps
- Mandatory Data Reporting
- Supply Chain
- Allocation of Resources/Resource Management
UTMB will follow state law/waivers on the use of out-of-state agency nurses or other healthcare professionals. UTMB encourages the use of the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) https://www.phe.gov/esarvhp/pages/about.aspx
Local Coordination would be through the local Healthcare Coalition which includes Public Health Agencies; Emergency Management Agencies, Mental Health Services (Gulf Coast Center); and other area hospitals
Regional Coordination would occur through the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC) and the Catastrophic Medical Operations Center (CMOC)
Resource Requests from the Strategic National Stockpile could be forwarded through Galveston County Health Department or SETRAC
If additional state resources were needed, UTMB would request support from the Texas Emergency Medical Taskforce System http://txemtf.org/ . Components include:
- Air Medical Strike Team
- Ambulance Staging Management Team
- Ambulance Strike Team
- Infectious Disease Response Unit
- Medical Incident Support Team
- Mobile Medical Unit
- Registered Nurse Strike Team
- Texas Mass Fatality Operations Response Team
Requests may be forwarded to the state for assistance from adjoining states via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
Additionally, federal support can be requested through the state to the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response / Response Operations to include:
- Public Health Response and Recovery
- National Disaster Medical System
- Medical Reserve Corps
- Emergency Prescription Assistance Program
- National Emergency Telemedicine Network
Maritime Infectious Disease Incidents: The Port of Galveston is next to the UTMB Main Campus. Cruise vessels operating out of the Port can have up to approximately 5000 passengers. An infectious disease outbreak on such a vessel can represent a serious challenge to UTMB, Galveston County, and the State of Texas. In the event of an outbreak on a vessel planning a port call to Galveston, the ship should first contact the Coast Guard, the CDC Quarantine Station, and the Cruise Line Company. For potentially serious outbreaks, CDC and Coast Guard should keep the ship offshore until the Local Health Authority grants permission for passengers and crew to debark from the ship. UTMB, the Galveston County Health Authority, Department of State Health Services, and CDC will develop a strategy to address the outbreak that may include providing telemedicine support or bringing healthcare to the ship.
Cargo vessels can have crew members exposed to an outbreak. In general, the number of potentially exposed people will be much lower and easier to manage than cruise lines. The crew may not debark into Galveston County without the permission of the County Health Authority.
Decon: in cases where there is an overt release of Anthrax spores, the spores could represent a risk of infection to staff and patients, therefore any incoming patients from such an incident would need to be decontaminated prior to entering a UTMB hospital or clinic.