By Julian Pecquet - 07/01/11 05:00 PM EDT
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it was awarding more than $352 million to help hospitals and healthcare systems across the country prepare for disasters.
The Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) grants allow recipients to hire emergency preparedness experts and buy mobile medical units and equipment to communicate with local emergency responders. The grants also help communities register volunteers and track the number of available hospital beds, vital for handling a surge of patients after disasters.
"We want every community to be prepared and resilient when faced with any type of health hazard and we've seen preparedness steps pay off this year across the country with severe storms, floods, and tornados [sic]," Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said in a statement. "State health officials have attributed their ability to respond as well as they have to the preparedness levels they’ve reached through the HPP and other federal programs."