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Emory part of consortium developing model of care plan for future pandemics

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Dr. Bruce Ribner

The National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) – a consortium of three teaching hospitals that successfully treated patients with Ebola in 2014 – will help create and implement a nationwide plan to care for patients in future pandemics.

NETEC was tapped by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious gaps in the nation’s health care system. More than half a million Americans have died from COVID-19.

To tackle the problem, NETEC has established a National Special Pathogen System (NSPS) of Care to help create a coordinated and standardized model of care across the country. The work builds on the expertise NETEC hospitals developed treating Ebola.

NETEC is a consortium of the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine; Emory University; and NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. It is funded by ASPR and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It’s clear that we need NSPS, as COVID-19 has exposed gaps in the national health care system that must be addressed to combat future pandemics,” says John Lowe, PhD, NETEC principal investigator and assistant vice chancellor for health security training and education at UNMC.

“In an environment riddled with fragmented approaches, siloed health care systems and an inability to respond efficiently, the coordinated response network of the NSPS will pave a path toward better care for patients affected by emerging special pathogens.”

Lowe said NETEC has convened an impressive group of leaders focused on innovative solutions for better health care system pandemic response. NETEC looks to gain support from key leaders in the health care and public health arenas, for whom the NSPS will be a valuable resource. Already, NETEC leverages its unique expertise, resources and experience to assess health care facility readiness, train providers, provide technical assistance and build a rapid research infrastructure to combat emerging special pathogens in the U.S.

“The group represents the entire spectrum of health care delivery,” says Vikramjit Mukherjee, MD, NETEC principal investigator, director of the medical ICU at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “This is critical to addressing health care inequities, plugging gaps in care and providing equitable, comprehensive treatment for all patients and communities.”

NETEC will work with organizations including federal government agencies like the CDC and Veterans Health Administration (VA) as well as experts in public health policy, payer insurance, health care management and delivery. Key leaders in professional societies and associations, academic institutions and medical centers, and emergency response services will also be involved in the effort. Each member will work to enable core capabilities of the NSPS system of care, which include: collaboration agreements, investment, operations, data and technology and workforce. NETEC expects to have a strategy and implementation plan for the NSPS in summer 2021.

Bruce S. Ribner, MD, MPH, NETEC principal investigator and professor of medicine in the Emory School of Medicine, says the establishment of the NSPS will lead to a sustained national network to address preparedness for responding to patients with serious communicable diseases.

“Over the past two decades, funding for biopreparedness in the United States has been like a roller coaster ride, with long periods of inadequate funding punctuated by short periods of large infusions of emergent funding,” says Ribner, who also is the medical director of the Emory University Hospital Serious Communicable Disease Unit. “Formulating the NSPS should stabilize that funding.”

About NETEC and NSPS

The mission of the NSPS is to provide a coordinated and standardized health care network to care for patients infected by (or suspected to have been infected by) a special pathogen, such as the Ebola virus, in the United States. The vision of the NSPS is to sustain a special pathogen health care system with agile, high-quality, holistic health care that enables care continuum administrators and healthcare personnel to both provide exceptional special pathogen care and achieve organizational mission and sustainability goals.

NETEC, established in 2015 and funded by ASPR and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a consortium of Emory University, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), and NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. NETEC leverages unique expertise, resources, and experience to assess health care facility readiness, train providers, provide technical assistance and build a rapid research infrastructure to combat emerging special pathogens in the United States. Combined with strong partnerships with federal agencies, NETEC ultimately strengthens national health care system response to COVID-19 and preparations for future emerging infectious disease threats. NETEC and the ten U.S. Regional Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Centers (RESPTCs) play pivotal roles in the COVID-19 response through isolating the first patients with COVID-19, rapidly conducting clinical research of COVID-19 therapeutics, and translating emerging science for rapid optimization of patient care and health care worker safety strategies.

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