Medical Allocations to Persons with Special Needs during a Bioterrorism Event

Donald E Brannen, Melissa Branum, Sejal Pawani, Sandy Miller, Jeanne Bowman, Tracy Clare


After the bioterrorism-anthrax attacks of 2001, individual public health officials were tasked with planning population-wide medicine dispensing. This planning started with assumptions and then evaluations of seasonal immunization clinics. Research of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic-vaccination campaign showed that an adequately prepared public health system could have prevented over 16% of flu-associated hospitalizations. The 2011 ice storms revealed difficulties with sheltering medically fragile persons with disabilities. Later research showed that training and preparedness levels increased responders’ willingness to serve. Also, when triaging disaster survivors to general shelters, medical shelters, or mental health services; sorting to community mass care services improved up to 15% when past traumatic effects, personal care assistance, or service methodology were accounted for. The number of persons who are disabled and dependent on electric medical equipment are increasing. This current study compared the time it takes to dispense medication to two different cohorts: a general-population cohort (n=31) and a special-needs cohort (n=30). The cohort comprised entirely of persons with special needs took 4.1 compared to 2.48 minutes per person in a general population cohort (p=.057). A person with any special needs took 3.73 versus 2.43 minutes for a person with no special needs (p=.082). Modeling of service times per station and cohort type found significant delays at the medical station among persons in the general population who are pregnant (840 seconds, p=.002) and persons in the special needs cohort with a language barrier (750 seconds, p=.001).

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *