Indiana’s 144 hospitals now have access to an emergency management communications network, provided by the state’s Department of Health.

The network went live on July 1 at 10 department regional districts and is being made available to hospitals within each region. Initially, the regions have mass hospital notification capability. Among other services the districts support hospitals with disaster planning, coordinating, training and response activities.

The network over time will support interactive communications and reporting to the federal government on the number of beds used, and by type of bed such as ICU or burn unit, during a disaster event. “To date, it has been difficult to track these numbers from individual hospitals and roll them up to the district and state levels,” says Gerri Husband, director of hospital preparedness for the department. The network also will support inventory tracking, a big plus in the decision to contract with emergency network vendor LiveProcess, she adds.

Also See: HHS Offers GIS-based Tool to Help with Disaster Preparedness

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Husband notes the cost “certainly fit in the budget.” LiveProcess in the past month trained the trainers in each region and now users are being trained.

Many hospitals are embracing the network while others already have some type of mass communication system, but all will have access to the network, Husband says. The challenge now is to go beyond mass notification and develop a statewide communication plan, which is much more complex and valuable, she adds.

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