Due to their access to medically underserved and vulnerable populations, community health centers (CHCs) can play an essential role in emergency response. CHCs often fill this role in partnership with other local health resources, such as local health departments (LHD). Little research has been done to understand the success of these partnerships as it relates to emergency planning and emergency response. This study compares CHC and LHD personnel regarding past, present, and future collaborative preparedness and response activities. Surveys were distributed electronically to 1,265 clinical and clerical staff at LHDs and CHCs in 23 states who met the study criteria. Of the 522 respondents, 287 (55%) reported having engaged in collaborative preparedness activities in general, with CHCs more likely to report partnering than LHDs. LHDs were more likely than CHCs to report taking part in specific preparedness activities, such as planning activities (91, 79%), (χ 2 (1, N = 280) = 7.395, P < 0.05), mass dispensing drill/exercises (65, 42%), (χ 2 (1, N = 279) = 14.019, P < 0.001), and communication drill/exercises (69, 47%), (χ 2 (1, N = 280) = 13.059, P < 0.001). This study suggests that collaborations between CHCs and LHDs in general are occurring, but these general collaboration are not being translated into participation in functional drills or exercises. Additional efforts to ensure a more comprehensive partnership between CHCs and LHDs in emergency preparedness are warranted.
- Community health centers
- Local health departments