COVID-19 Response among US Hospitals with Emerging Special Pathogen Programs

Angela Vasa, Valerie Pacino, Sami Vasistha, Wael Elrayes, John J. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In February 2015, the US Department of Health and Human Services developed a tiered hospital network to deliver safe and effective care to patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD) and other special pathogens. The tiered network consisted of regional special pathogen treatment centers, state-or jurisdiction-designated treatment centers, assessment hospitals able to safely isolate a patient until a diagnosis of EVD was confirmed and transfer the patient, and frontline healthcare facilities able to identify and isolate patients with EVD and facilitate transport to higher-Tier facilities. The National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) was established in tandem to support the development of healthcare facility special pathogen management capabilities. In August 2020, 20 hospitals that previously received an onsite readiness consultation by NETEC were surveyed to assess how special pathogen programs were leveraged for COVID-19 response. All surveyed facilities indicated their programs were leveraged for COVID-19 response in at least 1 of the following ways: NETEC-sponsored resources and training, utilization of patient isolation spaces, specially trained staff, and supplies. Personal protective equipment shortages were experienced by 95% of facilities, with 80% of facilities reporting that special pathogens program personal protective equipment was used to support facility response to COVID-19 admissions. More than half of facilities (63%) reported leveraging biocontainment unit staff to provide training and education to frontline staff during initial response to COVID-19. These findings have implications for planning and investments to avoid the panic-Then-forget cycle that hinders sustained preparedness for future special pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S31-S38
JournalHealth Security
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • Biocontainment unit
  • Biosafety protection
  • Covid-19
  • High-consequence pathogens
  • High-level isolation unit
  • Hospital preparedness/response
  • Special pathogen preparedness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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