Hospital CEOs Say Bioterrorism Plans are in Place; Survey Shows Hospitals are Working Closely with Local Agencies and Other Hospitals

CHICAGO -- Since September 11, 2001, hospitals have faced new challenges protecting and caring for their communities, especially the threat of bioterrorism. According to a new survey conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), 84 percent of hospital CEOs agree that since 9/11, their hospitals have worked more closely with public agencies (e.g. fire, police, and public health departments). Further, 95 percent of the respondents said their hospitals already have, or within six months will have, a bioterrorism disaster plan in place, developed in coordination with local emergency or health agencies.

"In times of crisis and need, healthcare executives ensure that hospitals and other healthcare organizations serve as 'safety nets' in their communities by providing emergency and ongoing care, as well as accurate, timely information about public health threats," said Thomas C. Dolan, PhD, FACHE, CAE, president and chief executive officer of ACHE.

ACHE asked more than 700 hospital CEOs throughout the country to report on the status of programs related to bioterrorism preparedness. Following is a summary of the results (n=295):

-- 85 percent of the respondents reported that they already are working

with other hospitals or hospital associations to learn about resources

available for a response to bioterrorism. Of the hospitals not

currently communicating with other organizations, 73 percent are

planning to establish such relationships within the next six months.

-- 60 percent of the respondents confirmed that their hospitals have

decontamination units in place. Of the hospitals without

decontamination units, 70 percent plan to purchase them within the next


-- The survey also asked CEOs to rate their hospitals' current readiness

in comparison to before 9/11. As a result of initiatives taken since

9/11, 69 percent of the CEOs believe their hospitals have become safer


"Hospitals always have adhered to the high security measures for both the safety of patients and employees," said Daniel J. Snyder, FACHE, chief executive officer of LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. "But today, disaster preparedness encompasses more and more, challenging CEOs to consider and coordinate response plans for an extensive list of situations."

Snyder also serves as chief operating officer for Intermountain Health Care's (IHC) Urban Central Region and CEO of IHC's flagship medical center. For the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Snyder's facilities were responsible for the routine and crisis medical operations.

ACHE periodically conducts surveys of its CEO affiliates, recently completing an assessment of the top issues hospitals face.

"It is the responsibility of healthcare executives to share their learnings with others in the industry," said Dolan. "ACHE provides a forum to communicate knowledge and developments, making certain all providers have access to the latest information and that all patients receive the best possible care."

The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of nearly 30,000 healthcare executives who lead our nation's hospitals, healthcare systems and other healthcare organizations. ACHE is known for its prestigious credentialing and educational programs and its annual Congress on Healthcare Management, which draws more than 4,000 participants each year.

Source: American College of Healthcare Executives