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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 26, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Creates Health Command Center to Respond to Public Health Emergencies


New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. announced today the formal opening of the Health Command Center (HCC), a $1.8 million facility from which the Department can respond in real time to a full spectrum of health emergencies, including infectious diseases, natural and manmade disasters.

“The Health Command Center is among the first of its kind in the nation for a public health agency, a facility equipped to be the focal point of communications and operations for the entire network of public health response partners in New Jersey,” said Commissioner Jacobs.

From the HCC, located in the Health and Agriculture building in Trenton, the Department can gather information about incidents and events in real time and use the information to implement an appropriate response to a wide range of public health emergencies.

“In a matter of minutes, the HCC can produce a complete picture of the New Jersey health system, including hospital divert status, the availability of medical equipment and needed medications, allowing staff to effectively manage our resources when time is of the essence,” Dr. Jacobs said.

The HCC is integral to the activities of the New Jersey State Emergency Management System linked directly to the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Information Center (ROIC) and works directly with the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management.

"The Health Command Center enhances New Jersey's ability to coordinate its response to significant emergencies," said Richard L. Cañas, Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.  "Working together with the ROIC and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the new HCC will better synchronize our response efforts and ensure that health care services are delivered to those who need them most."

The HCC will utilize advanced health decision software known as Hippocrates.  The software integrates dynamic and static data from the Department’s nine Medical Coordination Centers (MCCs), local health departments, acute care facilities and healthcare systems into a common situational awareness picture.

Hippocrates also enables the Department to assess healthcare resources and communicate with these partners as an emergency is unfolding.  Federal partners and other state agencies, like the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the New Jersey State Police, will have access to the system as well.

Outside of emergencies, Hippocrates provides the department with situational awareness on the status of the health system in New Jersey on a day-to-day basis.

"Disease outbreaks, such as a pandemic, present significant challenges to the health and emergency management communities,” said Capt. Jerome Hatfield of the New Jersey State Police.  “This center contributes greatly to enhancing the communication between responding agencies.  Better communication and sharing of valued resources will allow us to more effectively protect the citizens of New Jersey."

The HCC was funded through state appropriations.  The Hippocrates software was built in increments over the course of the last several years with $2 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.


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