One of our region’s—our nation’s—most significant healthcare threats is that of high-consequence infectious diseases (HCID). What that means is that a highly infectious, deadly disease spreads quickly through the population, causing panic, straining resources and, in the worst case scenario, pushing thousands of deathly ill people, including the healthcare workforce, into the hospitals and clinics all at once.

While influenza is a serious enough threat, high-consequence infectious diseases actually refers to diseases more like the 2014 threatened outbreak of West African Ebola. While healthcare readiness improved immediately after that situation, providers have reported difficulty in prioritizing HCID preparedness since then.

With increased international travel and the increasing likelihood of another Ebola-like scenario, providers and public health officers pushed for a regional approach for addressing these challenges. With support from DOH, the Network partnered with the Association of Professionals in Infection Prevention & Epidemiology to develop a day-long, statewide workshop.

Event Success

The November 6 High Consequence Infectious Disease Workshop was the largest event of its kind the Network has done, with 145 people from healthcare, public health and EMS, and some people coming from as far away as Idaho. There were 17 presenters on nine topics (see the agenda here).

The feedback was great. When asked whether they “found the workshop information useful and pertinent to their role” the average response was 4.62 out of 5. Other attendees reported:

  • The workshop came at an important time, and was relevant to their current concerns around emerging infectious diseases
  • Special appreciation for the Seattle Children’s measles presentation, which they said gave very relevant, real-world insight.
  • A strong desire for an annual workshop or a similar future event.

Drive to Future Action

Following the workshop, we are now working on a broader medium- to long-term Coalition-wide strategy around high consequence infectious disease response we plan on completing by early summer. Prior to that, we are updating our HCID response plan, and will have a workshop summary by late January to share with those in attendance and other partners. Our expanding HCID advisory group continues to be the brain trust for coordinating HCID preparedness and response activities and we look forward to participating in DOH’s March 2020 full-scale Ebola response exercise.

Those wanting more information about infectious disease response or the upcoming exercise, please contact Marissa Cummings, NWHRN’s High Consequence Infectious Disease Coordinator (Marissa.Cummings@nwhrn.org), or Aaron Resnick, Planning & Preparedness Manager (Aaron.Resnick@nwhrn.org).

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