NH DHHS Collaborates to Increase Oxygen Capacity during a Disaster in New Hampshire

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS), Division of Public Health Services in collaboration with the

Emergency Services Unit (ESU) is partnering with the State’s Public Health

Networks (PHNs) to increase the medical system’s capacity to handle

patients during a large outbreak or mass casualty event. This is phase III

of a program begun in 2008. Phases I and II included the purchase and

deployment of ventilators to the acute care hospitals around New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Critical Care and Supplemental Oxygen Program (CCSOP) is

working to strengthen the State’s ability to respond to a catastrophic

event. One hundred twenty-five ventilators, machines that assist very ill

patients who cannot breathe on their own, were deployed across the State

during the first two phases. Phase III involves oxygen concentrators,

machines that pull oxygen out of the air for patients with mild to moderate

breathing problems. This is called low-flow oxygen.

The NH CCSOP program is providing concentrators to the Public Health

Networks and assessing their use as well as tanked oxygen use at alternate

care sites (ACSs). These ACSs would be set up by the Networks if the number

of ill people exceeds the capacity of the hospitals. The other part of

phase III is workshops and exercises intended to improve the ability of the

PHN partnerships to provide medical evaluation and care during a major

event. Beginning last year, all the Networks have participated in workshops

and functional exercises to practice setting up an ACS. Successful

implementation of this project will result in the development of a specific

medical surge plan to be used in an event.

“This is a huge cooperative effort among the Division of Public Health

Services, the Emergency Services Unit, and the Public Health Networks,

which means all of the entities they collaborate with including hospitals

and other health care partners and local first responders,” said Dr. José

Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “This is a vital arm of our

preparedness efforts and I want to thank everyone involved for all their

hard work on behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire.”

This low-flow oxygen program is one of the topics DHHS is focusing on in

recognition of National Public Health Week, April 7–11 (#nphw #nhphw). To

read more go to http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/cphd/index.htm. For more

information on NPHW visit www.nphw.org