Planning and operating a public health emergency response network

Kathleen King, Cornell University

Photo of Kathleen King

Public health emergencies, such as an influenza pandemic, smallpox outbreak, or airborne anthrax attack require a rapid response from federal, state, and local authorities in order to prevent widespread mortality and morbidity. Current response plans seldom account for the variety of risks and uncertainties inherent in making the logistics decisions necessary for this type of coordinated effort. This poster provides an overview of the suite of models we have constructed to help public health officials both prepare for potential emergencies and to make operating decisions when actually responding to an event. For the planning phase, we developed methods for estimating inventory levels, staffing requirements, and transportation capacities that would be necessary in responding to various emergency scenarios. We also describe a simulation that can be used to evaluate the quality of existing response plans, to assist policy makers in understanding how the different parts of the system will affect one another, and to identify where bottlenecks or other problems might arise. For the operating phase of an emergency response, we define methods for estimating patient demands at points of dispensing over time, allocating medical supplies throughout the network, and setting staffing plans based on observed demands. Our work emphasizes the importance of viewing inventory management, staffing plans, and transportation resources from a global perspective and demonstrates the value of developing a strong centralized command and control system to allow for information sharing and joint decision-making across all parts of the supply chain.

Abstract Author(s): Kathleen King and John Muckstadt