Multi-state training partnership enhances rural health readiness

In September, Providence partnered with regional and national agencies to conduct an interactive, multi-agency exercise in Alaska and Washington, aimed at enhancing readiness to care for patients with highly communicable infectious diseases in rural areas.

The training, which took place from September 11 to 15, played a pivotal role in evaluating and refining systems, protocols, and partnerships essential for a cohesive and coordinated regional response.

The simulation, involving a fictitious patient with a suspected highly communicable disease, spanned from Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska, to Spokane, Washington, where Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Special Pathogens Program is the regional center of excellence for managing these types of cases. 

Participants focused on special pathogen training and infection prevention and control (IPC) practices, which included the use of Isolation System for Treatment and Agile Response for High-Risk Infections (ISTARI). 

ISTARI, developed by University of Nebraska Medical Center and Otherlab, an independent research and design lab, is a unique, portable patient care system that facilitates a full range of clinical care when isolation precautions are necessary. It enhances safety, improves quality of care, and reduces costs by reducing the reliance on personal protective equipment (PPE). 

This collaborative effort was primarily coordinated by Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children's Hospital Special Pathogens Program, designated as the Region 10 Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Center (RESPTC), in conjunction with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine.

Providence Special Pathogens Unit (SPU) is one of 13 federally funded and designated Regional Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Centers across the nation, specializing in the management of highly infectious diseases such as Ebola.

This training initiative was made possible through support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grants, including a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant supported by Project Firstline. This grant aims to enhance infection prevention and control initiatives within small and rural healthcare facilities, thereby advancing the ability of healthcare professionals to provide safe and effective clinical care across the country.

Participating organizations included: 

• Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital 
• Providence Alaska Medical Center
• Fairbanks Memorial Hospital
• University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine
• Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
• Otherlab 
• Life Flight Network
• LifeMed Alaska
• Alaska Department of Health
• American Medical Response Spokane
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