November 25 – December 1, 2019




1. Regional Coalition Meeting

The Northwest Region Healthcare Coalition will hold its monthly meeting Thursday December 12 beginning at 10:30 am. The agenda, the November meeting minutes, and the conference dial-in information will be sent to the routine attendees on the Tuesday prior to the meeting. The meeting will be held via our Ring Central conference call line.

2. Save the Dates

Upcoming training and conferences:

          The Coalition will host a Basic Disaster Life Support course December 10, 2019 in Harrisonburg, VA. Please contact our Exercise and Training Coordinator Matt Cronin to register.

Questions regarding upcoming training, please contact our Exercise and Training Coordinator, Matt Cronin. 

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 Weekly Influenza Activity Report

The Virginia Department of Health monitors the level of activity of influenza-like illness (ILI) each week from October through May. Those are the months when influenza (“flu”) is most likely to occur in Virginia, and that time period is referred to as the “flu season”.

Data Sources:
The Virginia Department of Health uses a number of different data sources to determine the level of flu activity that is occurring each week during flu season. The main data sources that are used to make the weekly flu activity level determination are:

  • laboratory reports
  • outbreak reports, and
  • data on visits to hospital emergency departments and urgent care centers for flu-like illness.

Flu Activity Levels:
Flu surveillance is not designed to count every person who has the disease. That would be nearly impossible because not all people with the disease are diagnosed by a physician and even fewer have their illness confirmed by a laboratory test.

Instead, VDH monitors changes in flu activity from week to week in each of the five health planning regions to look for increases compared to a baseline period. Activity is based on illness complaints that lead people to seek care in a hospital emergency department or urgent care center. Flu-like illness is defined as a fever along with a cough and/or a sore throat.

To view the weekly report, click here.


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




The Healthcare and Public Health Sector Highlights

The HPH Sector Highlights – Preparedness, Resilience, and Response Edition is a weekly email produced by the HHS ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) on behalf of the HPH Sector Partnership. It provides updates on healthcare and public health critical infrastructure resources, tools and events related to preparedness, resilience, and response.

Preparedness, Resilience, and Response Edition Week of November 22, 2019

  • FEMA Releases Community Lifelines Toolkit 2.0
  • Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month Continues: Election Security
  • Comments Needed: FEMA’s “Comprehensive Preparedness Guide”
  • Now Available: CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2019 Report
  • Now Available: SAMHSA’s Disaster Behavioral Health Planners Resource Portal
  • TRACIE Resource: CMS EP Rule
  • TRACIE Resource: Wildfire

The Infectious Disease Update for the HPH Sector is prepared each month by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Infectious Disease Update for the HPH Sector – November 2019

  • CDC report: 35,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year
  • US flu activity gains more steam
  • Drug Shortages: Root Causes and Potential Solutions
  • Pneumonic Plague Is Diagnosed in China
  • Ebola vaccine approved in Europe in landmark moment in fight against a deadly disease

The HPH Sector Highlights – Cybersecurity Edition is a weekly email produced by the HHS ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) on behalf of the HPH Sector Partnership. It provides updates on threat information, resources, and situational awareness related to healthcare cybersecurity. 

Cybersecurity Edition Week of November 22, 2019

  • HHS Tries a New Approach to Cybersecurity Training
  • Theresa Meadows on Why Medical Device Security Is So Challenging
  • FAST Technical Learning Community (TLC) — Webinar on FHIR Scalability Barriers
  • FTC Provides Tips on Safeguarding Data Before Upgrading Mobile Phones
  • National Tax Security Awareness Week is December 2–6
  • Identity Management & Access Control in Multiclouds Conference
  • NSA Cyber Advisory on Transport Layer Security Inspection

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

Course Offerings

L956 All Hazards Position Specific Liaison Officer course is scheduled for December 2-3, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

L956 Course Announcement Alexandria

L0103 Planning: Emergency Operations course is scheduled for December 4-5, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

L0103 Course Announcement Stafford County Public Safety Center

PER 211 Medical Management of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives, (CBRNE) Events course is scheduled for December 7-8, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

PER 211 Medical Management of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives, (CBRNE) Events Course Stafford

NWS Basic SKYWARN course is scheduled for December 9, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

SKYWARN Course Bowling Green

L954 All Hazards Position Specific Safety Officer course is scheduled for December 16-19, 2019. Please see the flyer for additional details.

L954 Course Announcement Manassas Park

G0205 Recovery from Disaster: The Local Community Role course is scheduled for February 10-11, 2020. Please see the flyer for additional details.

G205 Course Announcement Stafford 2020

1. University of Chicago Medical Center closes level 1 trauma center ahead of strike

University of Chicago Medical Center has closed its level 1 trauma center for adult and pediatric patients as it prepares for about 2,200 nurses to go on strike next week, medical center leaders announced.

Medical center leaders said UCMC closed its pediatric level 1 trauma program Nov. 18 and its adult trauma program Nov. 20. Its adult and pediatric emergency rooms continue to take walk-in patients.

Nurses are scheduled to strike Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving. The nurses also walked off the job Sept. 20 in a strike organized by National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United. They were allowed to return to work Sept. 25, after the medical center said it fulfilled its contract with temporary nurses to replace the striking ones for five days.

In preparation for the strike, UCMC announced earlier this week that it is moving about 50 babies and 20 children in its neonatal and pediatric intensive care units to other facilities.

UCMC President Sharon O’Keefe is also recruiting about 900 replacement nurses.

However, “it’s exceptionally difficult to hire people who are willing to leave their families during Thanksgiving,” she said in a news release. “At the same time, other hospitals in the city are already at or near capacity, which means they will not be able accept transfers of current inpatients if that need arises when nurses walk out. The combination of the two led us to take the step of temporarily closing our trauma program ahead of the strike.”

UCMC said the hospital was required to offer replacement nurses five days of work “to best recruit qualified and experienced replacement nurses.” Therefore, the nurses on strike will not be able to return to work until 7 a.m. Dec. 1.

Negotiations between UCMC and National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United began earlier this year. Medical center leaders say incentive pay — and whether the hospital should end the pay for newly hired nurses — is a sticking point in negotiations, according to the Chicago Tribune. The union has continued to express concerns about staffing levels.

The nurses said they plan to strike unless an agreement is reached.

Source: Kelly Gooch of Becker’s Hospital Review

2. Afton Mountain, west of Charlottesville, considered ‘high crash location’ with over 500 crashes in 6 years

TROY, Va. (WRIC) — A VDOT study of safety improvements revealed that over the last six years there have been a total of 3 deaths and 563 crashes on Afton Mountain.

The latest crash involved a tractor-trailer and a charter bus with more than 20 passengers early Sunday morning.

According to the VDOT study, people are traveling faster than they should in foggy weather and not leaving enough stopping distance. The study said there have been 360 crashes westbound and 203 eastbound for a total of 563 crashes.

As a result of the study, VDOT is considering adding more electric message boards along the mountain and possibly lowering the speed limit during inclement weather.

Read More »

Source: Talya Cunningham of WRIC

3. Virginia’s state psychiatric hospitals say they’re in “crisis,” with beds filled and not enough money

The day after the state’s top health official clashed, again, with legislators over plans to add beds at a western Virginia state mental hospital to ease overcrowding, the head of Eastern State Hospital thought she’d caught a break.

A couple of patients had done well enough to be discharged, freeing up a couple of beds. But a couple more had slipped into a mental health crisis, with nowhere else to go, and the mental health safety net for Tidewater Virginia was once again full to capacity — 302 people for 302 beds.

Virginia’s nine public psychiatric hospitals — housing a larger number, proportionately, than almost any other state — have been operating at more than 90% of capacity for the past three years. They peaked above 100% this summer and again in September and have been above 95% pretty much every week since Feburary, state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services data show.

“We are in a crisis,” Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey told the General Assembly’s joint subcommittee on mental health services last week.

Carey, the health secretary, told the mental health subcommittee that when nearly 100% of state hospitals’ authorized beds are full, the issue is not just the number of beds. Looking at what experts advise on best practices for a psychiatric hospital, Virginia’s state system is actually operating at about 127% of capacity, he said.

Read More »

Source: Dave Ress of Daily Press

4. U.S. hospitals, FDA grapple with shortages of lifesaving drugs

BOSTON — In a historic boardroom at Massachusetts General Hospital this week, the Emergency Preparedness Team assembled in what they say has become an all too frequent occurrence. More than two dozen doctors, nurses, pharmacists, tech specialists and others gathered around a conference table, a “war room” of sorts, to address the shortage of a crucial drug: the blood-thinner Heparin.

“It is simply not possible for us to do heart surgery without Heparin,” Dr. Thoralf Sundt, chief of cardiac surgery, emphasized to the room.

The meetings, according to Dr. Paul Biddinger, chief of the division of emergency preparedness, have become part of a new reality — one in which the hospital has to prepare for running short of critical drugs.

“This is the fourth time in the last two years we’ve had to activate our hospital’s emergency operations plan for a major drug shortage,” said Biddinger. “It’s almost unfathomable in modern medicine. I never thought we would get to a point in the U.S. healthcare system where we wouldn’t have essential medicines to be able to treat patients.”

Read More »

Source: Didi Martinez, Brenda Breslauer, and Stephanie Gosk of NBC News

5. DR Congo measles: Nearly 5,000 dead in major outbreak

Measles has killed nearly 5,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019, authorities said, after the disease spread to all the provinces in the country. Close to a quarter of a million people have been infected this year alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) says this is the world’s largest and fastest-moving epidemic.

Measles in DR Congo has now killed more than twice the number who have died of Ebola there in the last 15 months. The Congolese government and the WHO launched an emergency vaccination programme in September that aimed to inoculate more than 800,000 children. But poor infrastructure, attacks on health centres and a lack of access to routine healthcare have all hindered efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

Read More »

Source: BBC News

6. Minnesota hospital brawl prompts 2-hour ER lockdown

The emergency room of North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, Minn., was on lockdown for about two hours after a brawl erupted Nov. 21, a spokesperson confirmed to Becker’s Hospital Review.

The brawl, which involved 50 to 75 people, broke out about 11:30 a.m., the Robbinsdale Police Department said in a media release posted to its Facebook page.

Hospital security placed the emergency room on lockdown “due to a disturbance and individuals physically fighting,” according to police.

The lockdown was lifted around 1:30 p.m., after police had restored order.

The brawl occurred after a person with a nonfatal gunshot wound was brought in for treatment at the hospital, according to the Star Tribune. Family and acquaintances of the wounded person came to the hospital, and a fight erupted among those in the crowd, police said.

One person was arrested, but later released, Robbinsdale Police Chief Jim Franzen told the Star Tribune. No injuries were reported.

Source: Anuja Vaidya of Becker’s Hospital Review