December 2003

Grant Results

SUMMARY

In 2002, a team of scientists, business leaders, doctors, security professionals and others formed the New England Collaborative for Public Health Preparedness to bring a regional focus to local planning against bioterrorism and other biological threats to public health and safety.

The Third Sector New England, a Boston nonprofit that supports the work of other nonprofits (and served as the project's fiscal sponsor), supported the establishment of the New England Collaborative for Public Health Preparedness.

Key Results

  • The collaborative sponsored a conference entitled "Understanding the Problems and Discussing Realistic Solutions to the Surge Capacity Deficit," in July 2002 in Boston. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting from such organizations as the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  • With funds provided through the Harvard School of Public Health, the collaborative awarded seven mini-grants to advance local public health preparedness efforts. The mini-grants averaged around $7,000. Examples of funded projects included:
    • A manual written by staff at the University of Massachusetts to train directors of homeless shelters on appropriate procedures in the event of a national emergency.
    • A CD-ROM, produced by staff at the University of Massachusetts and local boards of public health, to train public health officials (in localities ranging from small to large) on what to do in national emergencies.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $49,987 in funding between April and November 2002.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
 Back to the Table of Contents


THE PROBLEM

According to Mindy Lubber, the collaborative's director, government agencies often move too slowly in response to unpredictable, changing perils. Well-intentioned preparedness efforts by state and local agencies often neglect to account for the fact that disasters do not recognize jurisdictional borders. State emergency vaccination plans, for example, often do not take into account the possibility that a state may be inundated with people fleeing adjacent jurisdictions.

 Back to the Table of Contents


RWJF STRATEGY

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, RWJF authorized $5 million for immediate relief and assistance efforts, of which it spent $2 million. A second wave of grants focused on preparing for future emergencies. One cluster from this wave of funding went to organizations working on communications and getting information out to the public. Another cluster of funding — to which this grant belongs — helped organizations trying to better understand biological terror and to chart a course of action in responding to it.

 Back to the Table of Contents


THE PROJECT

By working with public and private organizations (in government, business, public health, science, technology and academia), the collaborative aims to offer leaders who know how a city or region works the opportunity to shape a ready and effective public health system.

Under the grant, the collaborative appointed a board of directors consisting of four senior health policy experts (see the Appendix for a list of members); named Mindy Lubber, a former New England regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, as director; and established a base of some 200 experts in diverse fields for consultation and collaboration.

Core focus areas of the collaborative include:

  • Problem-solving: Devising immediate, innovative, practical solutions to answer key public health questions. Of principal interest in this area was the issue of "surge capacity," i.e., the ability of systems (governmental, medical, public safety, etc.) to handle large-scale emergencies.
  • Education and training: Imparting knowledge to senior managers, planners, researchers, health care workers and first responders to enhance technical and management skills essential to public health readiness.
  • Information dissemination: Offering immediate access to findings on issues of national public health preparedness via the Internet.

 Back to the Table of Contents


RESULTS

The project accomplished the following:

  • The collaborative sponsored a conference entitled "Understanding the Problems and Discussing Realistic Solutions to the Surge Capacity Deficit," in July 2002, in Boston. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting from such organizations as the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  • With funds provided through the Harvard School of Public Health, the collaborative awarded seven mini-grants to advance local public health preparedness efforts. The mini-grants averaged around $7,000. Examples of funded projects included:
    • A manual written by staff at the University of Massachusetts to train directors of homeless shelters on appropriate procedures in the event of a national emergency.
    • A CD-ROM, produced by staff at the University of Massachusetts and local boards of public health, to train public health officials (in localities ranging from small to large) on what to do in national emergencies.

Communications

Project personnel publicized the work of the collaborative in articles in professional and popular publications, including the Boston Herald. (See the Bibliography.)

 Back to the Table of Contents


AFTER THE GRANT

The collaborative is drafting a proposal to establish a quasi-governmental model, called New England Public Health Compact, through which it would work with the New England Governor's Association to ensure coordination and minimize wasted money and duplication in future preparedness efforts.

 Back to the Table of Contents


GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Establishing a Public Health Collaboration Among New England Academic Institutions

Grantee

Third Sector New England (Boston,  MA)

  • Amount: $ 49,987
    Dates: April 2002 to November 2002
    ID#:  044314

Contact

Anthony Robbins, M.D., M.P.A.
(617) 636-0834
anthony.robbins@tufts.edu
Mindy Lubber, J.D., M.B.A.
(617) 375-1070
TheLubberGroup@aol.com

 Back to the Table of Contents


APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

New England Collaborative for Public Health Preparedness Board of Directors

Philip Caper, M.D.
Lecturer
Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

Jack Kasten
Lecturer
Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

David Ozonoff, M.D.
Professor of Environmental Health
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

Anthony Robbins, M.D., M.P.A.
Morton A. Madoff Professor of Community Health
Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

 Back to the Table of Contents


BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

Lubber MS and Ozonoff D. "Emergency Planning Requires Thinking Outside the Box." Boston Herald, November 10, 2002.

Lubber MS and Ozonoff D. "A New Age in Public Health." Unpublished.

Lubber MS and Zaia AM. "Moving Towards Public Health Preparedness." Occupational Health Tracker, 5(3): 2002.

Sponsored Conferences

"Understanding the Problems and Discussing Realistic Solutions to the Surge Capacity Deficit," July 30, 2002, Boston. Attended by approximately 50 people from such organizations as the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

 Back to the Table of Contents


Report prepared by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: J. Michael McGinnis