UNMC/Nebraska Medicine Selected as A Federal Partner Site for All-Hazard Medical Response Program
Omaha, Neb. — The Nebraska congressional delegation today welcomed notice of the selection of Omaha, home to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Nebraska Medicine, as a key pilot site designated to develop a federal program that will improve the nation’s ability to respond to future catastrophic events such as pandemics, natural disasters, or a direct attack on the homeland.
Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02), who recently received a letter from the Acting Undersecretary of Defense informing him of the decision, worked closely with Sen. Deb Fischer on authorizing language in the fiscal year 2020 and 2021 National Defense Authorization Acts through the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) took lead in securing initial funding for the pilot project through the House Appropriations Committee.
The multi-federal department pilot program will be led by the Department of Defense in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and to improve medical surge capability in the nation. Other partner agencies include the Veterans Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Transportation. The letter states that Omaha was chosen because of the medical center’s leadership in meeting surge capacity, infectious disease control, readiness training and education as a key partner in the nation’s effort to improve overall health security and medical preparedness.
“As we work to bring an end to the current pandemic, it is absolutely critical that we simultaneously ensure the nation is medically prepared for whatever comes next,” said Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I am pleased with the decision and grateful for the teamwork of the Congressional delegation and the University of Nebraska that delivered this result.”
“The Department of Defense made the right move in selecting Omaha, the home of a world-class university and medical facility, as a site for this surge capacity response program,” said Fischer. “As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was pleased we were able to create this pilot program in the FY 20 and FY 21 annual defense authorization bills. I will continue working to advance this program further during the legislative process for this year’s defense bill.”
"When the first Americans abroad were found to be at risk of COVID exposure, UNMC raised its hand to help. I am pleased to play an important role in the House Appropriations Committee ensuring the Department of Defense has the resources needed to support UNMC as one of five bio-containment centers that will lead the nation in dealing with highly infectious diseases,” said Fortenberry, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is top-notch — and our state should be proud that institutions like the Department of Defense are turning to Nebraska,” said Sen. Ben Sasse. “Our congressional delegation will continue celebrating UNMC’s good work, as Nebraskans keep serving our communities and nation.”
As part of this designation, Omaha is part a pilot program that will transform the NDMS as the U.S. prepares for the next pandemic or other catastrophic events. The program is intended to strengthen NDMS capabilities and surge capacity through a collaborative network of federal and civilian partners.
This designation is part of an extensive program authorized by Congress and being led by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) in consultation with the Joints Chiefs of Staff. The DHA oversees the military health system that maintains a medically ready fighting force and a medical system that is prepared to respond quickly and effectively to the full spectrum of military operational requirements.
The site designation is also an important milestone for the ongoing development of “Project NExT” at UNMC/ Nebraska Medicine. Project NExT is a transformational public-private partnership to create a federal, all-hazard health security disaster response space that is adaptable and leverages UNMC’s and Nebraska Medicine’s experience and global leadership in infectious diseases and bio preparedness. This expertise will be leveraged to meet America’s current and future unmet health care training and medical surge capacity needs.
“UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are humbled to receive this recognition as one of the designated pilot sites,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD. “The Med Center is uniquely positioned with the capabilities to continue our journey to effectively partner with the federal government with not only improving the country’s overall readiness in the face of future needs, but also with sharing our knowledge and experience with other hospitals and health professionals nationwide.”
“There is a long history of UNMC and Nebraska Medicine demonstrating world-class capabilities in this area through work in past crises and catastrophic global events,” said James Linder, MD, CEO of Nebraska Medicine.“Our treatment of Ebola patients in 2014, being named the nation’s quarantine and training center, our cutting-edge research in infectious diseases and bio preparedness, and serving as a trusted resource during the pandemic are just a few ways in which our expertise has impacted global health care. Project NExT will put us in an even better position to continue serving our region, country and the world.”