HHS command center in place to deal with Katrina's health crises

Officials at the Dept. of Health and Human Services are using the high-tech Secretary's Command Center in Washington, as well as a mobile command center based in Baton Rouge to respond to the health crises stemming from Hurricane Katrina.


Officials at the Dept. of Health and Human Services are using the high-tech Secretary's Command Center in Washington, as well as a mobile command center based in Baton Rouge to respond to the health crises stemming from Hurricane Katrina, says an article in Information Week

Systems at the command centers help government officials prepare for, monitor, and respond to health crises such as outbreaks of infectious diseases by analyzing data collected from many sources, including hospitals, public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the military, and others.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, former Health Secretary Tommy Thompson ordered the command center be built to help government officials prepare for and deal with health crises. Through the center's systems, HHS officials can tell, for instance, which U.S. hospitals have available beds to treat injured victims of a disaster like the hurricane, or other crises such as terrorist attacks, chemical spills, or earthquakes.

"We're using the command center for exactly what it was built for," says an HHS spokesman. Government officials use the command center every day to manage smaller crisis and keep tabs on the nation's health issues, as well.

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