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UPMC Receives Two Achievement Awards for Combating Bioterrorism from the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, PA, March 3, 2003 The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has received two achievement awards from the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) for its efforts to protect patients, hospital staff and the general community against bioterrorism.

The awards were announced today during a luncheon at the organizations leadership summit in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

UPMC received one award in the communications strategies category for its Combating Bioterrorism Through Effective Communications plan, which enacted the UPMC MedCall Terrorism Response and Information Center shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

MedCall, which was originally developed by UPMC 14 years ago, is an extensive 24/7 physician tracking system that includes immediate contact information for more than 11,000 UPMC physicians. Containing more than 400 on-call schedules, MedCall is considered among the largest electronic physician tracking systems in the United States.

Additionally, UPMC received a second award in the employee relations category for its Bioterrorism Preparedness: Safety Link Training for Staff.

Safety Link, which was developed by the UPMC Bioterrorism Preparedness Groups Communications Task Force, is a series of educational sessions to help managers and staff better understand their role in the event of a disaster or emergency. The Safety Link program is designed to include detailed information on how to respond to a specific disaster, whether natural or manmade.

To date, more than 16,000 UPMC employees have received training in bioterrorism preparedness. The training was specific to each department and included everyone from parking attendants, security guards and hospital administrators to emergency medicine personnel. Additionally, nearly 500 UPMC staff identified as emergency first responders received specialized training in the use of personal protection equipment.

This is quite an honor for UPMC and I am proud to be a part of this collaborative effort, says Loren H. Roth, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice-president, medical services of UPMC and co-chairman of the UPMC Bioterrorism Preparedness Group.

The mission of the UPMC Bioterrorism Preparedness Group is to coordinate the already existing strong relationship with the federal, state and local law enforcement and public health agencies; to coordinate hospital operations at all UPMC hospitals to ensure quality of patient care in the event of a disaster; and to devise systems with the expertise of infectious disease and disaster specialists to ensure that life-saving antidotes and vaccines to bioterrorism agents can be accurately tested and implemented in a timely manner.

A guide for the general public on coping with bioterrorism is available at coping.upmc.com that includes resources on family emergency planning.

The HAP achievement awards program recognizes health care professionals who have developed innovative, adaptable projects that enhance patient satisfaction and health care quality, and that produce cost savings and other efficiencies. The achievement awards program also facilitates networking and idea sharing among members, and showcases hospitals and health systems commitment to their patients, communities and employees.

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