Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management

Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management Coalition (formerly HAH Emergency Services Coalition) is a statewide federally qualified all hazards comprehensive emergency management healthcare coalition program which sits inside of the Hawaii Hospital Education and Research Foundation (HHERF), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.   The program was commissioned in 2003 by the federal government with the support of the Hawaii State Department of Health.

The coalition provides a unique array of statewide services and capabilities such as integrated communication and information sharing systems, coordination of healthcare response and recovery operations, patient tracking system,  deployment of a variety of emergency response teams such as Kalawao Rescue, HERT, IMAT, IMTs and various specialized strike teams, mobilization of healthcare delivery systems, learning management system for training, logistic support, medical countermeasures, planning and preparedness activities such as training, workshops, tabletop, functional and full scale exercises, etc.

The coalition is led by a program director and operates with a small permanent staff of 3.0 FTE and other support personnel that include three area coordinators (counties of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii) and over 160 emergency managers representing each member organization.  The Emergency Management Committee which consists of emergency managers representing each of the healthcare organizations is chaired by the program director and provides governance for coalition.

Program funding is 100% dependent on federal grant money through the Hospital Preparedness program.  The program currently receives no county or state funding.

Membership consists of over 160 healthcare organizations statewide in all of the counties.  Those organizations include all of the hospitals, all of of the dialysis centers, most of the long term care facilities, most of the home health providers, most of the long term care facilities, most of the home health providers, all of the hospice providers, all of the community health centers, most of the assisted living facilities, air and ground ambulance providers, pharmaceutical providers, medical gas providers, durable medical equipment providers, ambulatory surgical center providers, blood bank, clinical laboratories, etc.  The roles and responsibilities of members and Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management are defined and described in a MOU or Memorandum of Understanding signed by each organization.

The goal is to sustain and maintain essential and critical healthcare system services statewide during and after a major emergency or disasters through strong coordination, collaboration and leveraging all of the statewide healthcare resources and information sharing.

The program has its own web site www.hhemc.net

HHEM’s Role During COVID-19

During the pandemic, HHEM played a key role in making sure healthcare organizations provided safer care for patients and residents. Many facilities in Hawaii were concerned that COVID-19 would deplete their PPE resources. HHEM, in collaboration with Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), responded by ordering and dispersing personal protective equipment (PPE) to the hospitals, nursing and assisted living facilities, home health agencies, hospices, frontline workers and others.

Here are more ways that HHEM helped members and other healthcare providers prepare and battle the pandemic.

  • Acquired and distributed additional personal protective equipment, including medical-grade N-95 masks, gloves, and gowns, as well as also locally-made hand sanitizer, cloth masks, and 3D-printed face shields.
  • Coordinated National Guard staff loaned to HHEM to assist with personal protective equipment and supplies.
  • Received and shipped other COVID-19 critical supplies, such as the experimental medication Remdesivir used to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • Expanded distribution of PPE to non-coalition members such as physician practices, the state Department of Health, and others having difficulty securing PPE.
  • Received, inventoried, and dispensed supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile.