With new CMS regulations in effect, the Knoxville/East Tennessee Healthcare Coalition (KETHC) is working diligently with those facilities affected to assist with their emergency preparedness requirements. The KETHC has many years of experience with full scale exercise planning on a regional level, but this is a new learning opportunity for the Coalition by focusing primarily on organizations outside of hospitals.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has defined healthcare coalitions as: A collaborative network of healthcare organizations and their respective public and private sector response partners that serve as a multi-agency coordinating group to assist with preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities related to healthcare organization disaster operations. To serve that purpose the coalition coordinates a healthcare system-wide approach for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from incidents. This is accomplished by detailed planning, organizing, equipping, training, exercises and evaluation.

There are seventeen types of facilities affected by the new CMS guidance. The KET HC has offered exercise workshops and Incident Command trainings for the facilities. These classes filled up quickly and had great turn out. To ensure appropriate exercise planning for all involved, the KETHC has hosted several planning meetings with representatives from these facility types. The planning committee contributed to the overall exercise design and the documentation process was completed by staff at the Knox County Health Department and the East Tennessee Regional Health Office. The exercise will take place on November 2, 2017.

Currently there are over 100 facilities registered to participate in the exercise. Future plans will be to facilitate quarterly meetings with these facilities to provide networking and training opportunities, as well as sharing of information. The first full group exercise planning meeting was held on September 7 with 139 participants. The next exercise meeting will be October 26th.

We look forward to this new partnership extension of the Coalition with this all important healthcare group within our community.