October 7 – 13, 2019




1. Regional Coalition Meeting

The Northwest Region Healthcare Coalition will hold its monthly meeting this Thursday October 10 beginning at 10:30 am. The agenda and the September meeting minutes will be sent to the routine attendees tomorrow. The meeting will be held at Rockingham County Office Building on the 2nd floor (the same location we conducted the Table Top Exercise in August).  

2. Save the Dates

Upcoming training and conferences:

          a. The Coalition will conduct four training opportunities titled NIMS-in-a-Nutshell.

           NIMS and ICS – what do they mean and how do they apply to your facility or organization? This workshop will describe the purpose of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and provide an overview of how the Incident Command System (ICS) can be applied to your facility. At the end of the workshop, the attendees will work through a facilitated table top exercise to apply what was learned and to implement your Emergency Operations Plan. The offerings are spread around the region to help limit travel time for attendees. The first offering is October 10th in Harrisonburg. The second offering is October 17th in Front Royal. The third offering is November 7th in Charlottesville. The fourth offering will be in Winchester once a new date and location has been confirmed. You can register for any of the four offerings by clicking here. Please obtain the password to complete the registration process by contacting Becki Chester or Matt Cronin from the Contact Us page.

          b. The Coalition will host the MGT – 349 Pediatric Disaster Response and Emergency Preparedness course November 18 – 19, 2019 in Harrisonburg, VA. Questions regarding upcoming training, please contact our Exercise and Training Coordinator, Matt Cronin. Please see the link for more details.

National Healthcare Coalition Preparedness Conference 2019

Being a part of #NHCPC19 provides many benefits to all attendees, including:

  • Networking with peers from across a variety of professional fields
  • Learning best practices from experts in the healthcare arena
  • Access to vendors with unique insight into emergency preparedness
  • Educational and actionable sessions that provide a leading edge for your organization
  • A shared wealth of lessons learned and data gathered
  • Enjoy Houston and all our beautiful host city has to offer
  • Experience workshops with up to date techniques and information

From the National Healthcare Coalition Conference website.

“The goal for the 2019 Conference is Taking Coalitions to New Heights. Healthcare Coalitions are a very real force multiplier for resiliency. They are essential in facilitating a more relevant, timely, effective and efficient response, which in turn improves how affected communities’ needs are met during disasters as well as improving how emergency needs are met every day. Creating an evidence base is vital to making the case for ongoing investment in resiliency. We know that allocating scarce resources requires decision-makers to understand the trade-offs between different opportunities. Building an optimal resiliency portfolio requires robust analysis. We view our HCC expenditures as investments as they occur in a context of uncertainty and offer yields both in financial returns and/or improved outcomes.”

If interested in attending and receiving reimbursement from the Coalition (we are limited to only two members per Coalition, please contact Matt Cronin, Exercise & Training Coordinator).

More information about the event can be found: here

3. Clinical Advisor

The Northwest Region Healthcare Coalition is seeking a part-time physician to serve as a clinical advisor. The job announcement can be found here. We ask healthcare organizational staff to please assist us by spreading the word about this open position. As part of our grant funding requirement, we must hire a physician before the next grant period begins.

4. Memorandum of Understanding

We are pleased to announce that the Northwest Region Healthcare Coalition continues to receive requests to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the coalition and non-hospital facilities. The MOU is designed for healthcare facilities that are not classified as an Acute Care or Critical Access hospital, and it is good for five (5) years before it will need to be renewed. If your organization resides within the Northwest Region and you have not signed the MOU, you can contact either the Regional Coordinator or the Medically Vulnerable Populations Coordinator to find out more details.

We are expanding our outreach to healthcare agencies within the region as a way of offering assistance to you and your organization. We ask for everyone’s help to spread the word by talking with your colleagues about the Northwest Region Healthcare Coalition. You can contact us by clicking the Contact Us tab on our website.

Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Credit:

Virginia Department of Health

Virginia Department of Health Confirms First Death Related to e-cigarette use or “Vaping”

(Richmond, VA) – Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) confirmed that a Virginia resident has died in the outbreak of severe lung injury associated with e-cigarette use or “vaping.” This death was reported by Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C. on September 26, 2019.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the first death of a Virginia resident related to this outbreak. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. The decedent was an adult from the southwest region. To protect patient confidentiality, VDH will not release additional details.

As of September 30, 2019, there have been 31 lung injury cases, including the death, in Virginia. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 805 cases from 46 states and one U.S. territory, as of September 24, 2019. Twelve other deaths have been confirmed in 10 states.

The cause of this outbreak is unknown. VDH recommends that people who are concerned about lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use or vaping refrain from using e-cigarette products. Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.

E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.  In addition to other potentially harmful chemicals, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development.  People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention or call a poison control center at 1-800-222-1222  if symptoms develop.

Source: Marian Hunter of Virginia Department of Health


Health & Human Services

 Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response


Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Technical Resource,                                                                                                           Assistance Center, and Information Exchange

Hospital Preparedness Program




National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 1 marked the beginning of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2019. NCSAM is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

The NCSAM 2019 Website includes various downloadable materials needed to “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” throughout October and use year round. Products include tip sheets, presentations, graphics, and more.

NCSAM engagement opportunities can be found at several upcoming events. Visit the NCSAM booth, attend a NCSAM workshop, or listen to a NCSAM speaker at one of the events listed below. More NCSAM event programming can be found at StaySafeOnline.org

Join the conversation throughout the month by following and engaging with CISA social media outlets such as @cyber, @CISAgov, @CISAKrebs, and @CISAManfra. Promote NCSAM on social media by using the hashtags #BeCyberSmart, #CyberAware, and #NCSAM2019. And help spread the word by including NCSAM-branded graphics in business outreach efforts.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Credit: U.S. Food & Drug


Credit: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


         U.S. Department of Homeland Security 

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Virginia Department of Emergency Management

1. Course Offerings

PER-335 Complex Coordinated Attacks (CCA) course is scheduled for October 15-16, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

PER335 Course Announcement – Fredericksburg, VA

G205 Recovery from Disaster: The Local Community Role course is scheduled for October 29-30, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

G205 Course Announcement Orange, VA

2. Over 1,000 sickened with vaping-related illnesses, CDC says
As of Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed more than 1000 cases of vaping related illnesses. Illnesses have been reported in all but 2 states, with deaths being reported in 15. The first illnesses were reported in early spring, the number of cases has been increasing over the past several weeks. Symptoms associated with the illness include shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. Physicians have reported lung damage appears similar to what is seen as a result of exposure to chemical fumes.  It is unclear what long-term effects some patients will endure. Some states have begun instituting temporary bans. Source: CBS

1. Alabama system pays hackers after ransomware attack at 3 hospitals

Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based DCH Health System announced Oct. 5 that it had paid hackers an undisclosed ransom to restore access to locked systems at its three hospitals.

“We worked with law enforcement and IT security experts to assess all options in executing the solution we felt was in the best interest of our patients and in alignment with our health system’s mission,” spokesperson Brad Fisher told the Tuscaloosa News. “This included purchasing a decryption key from the attackers to expedite system recovery and help ensure patient safety. For ongoing security reasons, we will be keeping confidential specific details about the investigation and our coordination with the attacker.”

DCH Health System has been diverting patients at its three hospitals, DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center, since Oct. 2 due to the ransomware attack. While the hospitals have been able to continue treat existing patients, it’s unclear when they will begin to admit new patients.

Since paying the ransom, DCH Health System has completed a test decryption and is restoring its systems. The health system has thousands of computer devices within its network, so it is unclear when this process will be completed.

“We cannot provide a specific timetable at this time, but our teams continue to work around the clock to restore normal hospital operations, as we incrementally bring system components back online across our medical centers,” an Oct. 5 statement from the health system said. “This will require a time-intensive processes to complete, as we will continue testing and confirming security operations as we go.”Source: Mackenzie Garrity of Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report

2. The Joint Commission e-alerts for Credentialing and Privileging for Critical Access Hospital and Hospitals

The Joint Commission has posted FAQs regarding temporary privileges. Below are the links for both types of hospitals.
Source: The Joint Commission 

Critical Access Hospitals – Critical Access Hospitals – Credentialing and Privileging – Temporary Privileges

Hospital and Hospital Clinics – Hospitals – Credentialing and Privileging – Temporary Privileges

3. OEMS – CSEMS Announces New Regional Program Manager

The Virginia Office of EMS and the Central Shenandoah EMS Council are pleased to announce the hiring of Daniel Linkins NRP, MPH as the new Regional Program Manager.
Daniel’s first day will be on Thursday October 10. He will be at OEMS in Richmond for a couple of days in the onboarding process and then will be in the CSEMS Office. There will be a board meeting and meet and greet in mid to late October at the Council office. To view the entire article, please click here.
Source: Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services

4. Two New Protocols for Respirator Fit Testing from OSHA

On September 26, OSHA added two new protocols for ensuring employees’ respirators fit properly. When employers are required under personal protective equipment regulations to provide respiratory protection, they also are required to ensure the respirators properly fit each employee.

The new protocols are variations of an existing OSHA-approved method, the ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol, often referred to as the “PortaCount® protocol.” The new protocols are:

  • The modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for full-face piece and half-mask elastomeric respirators; and
  • Modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering face piece respirators.

The new protocols have fewer test exercises, shorter exercise duration, and a more streamlined sampling sequence than the existing ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol.

The protocols provide employers with alternatives to the four quantitative fit testing protocols already listed in the respiratory protection standard. The new protocols apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry.

To view the entire article, please click here.

Source: Guy Burdick, EHS Daily Advisor of Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare