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Modeling Health Care Surge Capacity Requirements during an Intentional Attack on the Food Supply

Award No.: 
Principal Investigator: 
Emma Hartnett
PI Organization: 
Risk Sciences International, Inc.
Intentional attacks on the food supply can potentially have catastrophic impacts on the health of the population. In localized events the ability to expand health care to sudden, and potentially prolonged, demand is of great concern. Building upon the project team's previous experience in modeling the public health response to an attack on the food supply (1), and surge capacity modeling for pandemic influenza (2), we propose to develop a simulation-based tool that enables the exploration of current surge capacity demands under a variety of forms of attack on the food supply. It will consider both treatment oriented capacity (such as access to treatment facilities, equipment and medicinals) and laboratory capacity (in terms of testing and identification of the agent). The tool will be designed such that varying magnitudes of incident can be explored (in terms of both the number of people affected and their geographical density) for a range of potential threat agents with differing health outcomes. The tool will be demonstrated using combinations of selected threat agents, food vehicles and geographical locations (two of each), selected as part of the project. The tool will include three key features: (1) A mathematical model that is both spatial and temporal, considering the exposure of individuals, where individuals require treatment, the resources they require, and the availability of those resources over the course of the incident. The exposure component of this model will be based upon the public health response model (1) (previously developed under NCFPD funding). This model will be adapted and expanded to explore surge capacity in health care and laboratory settings. (2) A user interface allowing the user to define the boundaries of the attack (agent involved, magnitude of the incident, geographical dispersion, and treatment and laboratory requirements). (3) A database to store information on the available resources (treatment facilities, laboratory capacities etc) in the affected regions and agent based information (for example attack rates and health outcomes). Use of the tool will allow the exploration of the impact of different responses to an incident, for example different protocols addressing the emergency standard of care, or response strategies such as the implementation of temporary or mobile care facilities. Such explorations provide insights into the ability of the health care system to provide the required level of patient care for intentional attacks. This in turn provides information and data that can be used in the development of emergency preparedness plans aimed at minimizing the impact of an attack on the food supply.
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