Frequently Asked Questions about the MRPC

What is a Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines Health Care Coalitions, which are referred to as Health and Medical Coordinating Coalitions (HMCCs) in the state of Massachusetts, as a “collaborative network of healthcare organizations and their respective public and private sector response partners that serve as a multiagency coordinating group to assist with preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities related to healthcare organization disaster operations.

The development and sustainment of HMCCs is a federal initiative and a joint requirement of the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement as funded by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The purpose of HMCCs is to provide an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to coordinate efforts across all phases of the emergency management cycle (mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery) in order to streamline and augment local and regional preparedness capabilities, capacity, and resiliency for emergency incidents as they relate to the healthcare sector.

The HMCC model was introduced in Massachusetts in 2013 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management (MDPH OPEM), initiating a multi-year phased approach that established six (6) HMCCs across the Commonwealth by 2017.

Ok…then what is the Metro Regional Preparedness Coalition?

The Metro Regional Preparedness Coalition (MRPC) is the official name for the HMCC serving the Massachusetts Emergency Preparedness Region 4AB, which spans 5 counties and 60 cities and towns in the Metro Boston area.

MDPH OPEM has designated five ‘core’ health disciplines essential to represent, and function as the HMCC in each region and to fulfill and coordinate regional health and medical emergency planning initiatives. These core disciplines include the following:

• Community Health Centers and large Ambulatory Care Practices
• Emergency Medical Services
• Hospitals and Hospital Systems of Care
• Long Term Care Facilities
• Public Health Departments/Boards of Health

While these five core disciplines are required for the development and directives of the MRPC, any and all emergency management partners (Emergency Management, Dialysis Centers, Home Health Agencies, Pharmacies, Behavioral Health, etc.) are always welcome to attend MRPC Stakeholder Meetings and events, receive regional informational mailings and planning resources, and may have a larger and more formal role with regional planning efforts in future years of MRPC development.

What is the MRPC Sponsoring Organization? Who organizes and leads MRPC initiatives?

Sponsoring Organization

Each Regional HMCC is required to have a Sponsoring Organization that serves as the fiscal and administrative agent and ‘pass through’ of federal PHEP and HPP as well as state Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) funding to HMCC Stakeholders. In 2016, Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) was selected as the Sponsoring Organization for the Region 4AB HMCC, now referred to as the MRPC. The Sponsoring Organization ‘hosts’ and ‘houses’ the MRPC program, and employs three Full Time Employees (the MRPC Program Manager, the MRPC Planning and Operations Coordinator, and a Grants Manager) to lead the overall development of the MRPC program, direct and facilitate regional MRPC planning and response capabilities, provide 24/7 coverage of the MRPC ‘On Duty’ Response Role, manage the MRPC workplan, deliverables, and budget, as well as provide oversight of all other aspects of the PHEP and HPP grant program requirements and deliverables for sub-recipients.

MRPC Executive Committee

The MRPC Executive Committee serves as the governing body for the MRPC and is tasked with identifying and setting the overall policy objectives and strategic direction for the region/MRPC. The Executive Committee is a twenty-member committee led by a Chair and Vice-Chair, and is comprised of two primary and two alternate representatives with voting authority from each of the five core disciplines. Representatives serve for two- year terms, with exception of the Chair and Vice-Chair role, which serve one-year terms. Executive Committee representatives serve as Subject Matter Experts from their respective discipline to ensure that all regional plans, policies, and procedures are developed in a collaborative, cooperative fashion to best meet the needs of the region, as a whole. Executive Committee representatives also serve as Points of Contact/Leads for their respective discipline’s existing sub-coalitions, and another channel by which questions, needs, requests, and any issues may be brought to the region’s attention. *Please reference the MRPC Organizational Chart for a list of current Executive Committee appointees.
MRPC Program Staff provides administrative leadership of bi-monthly MRPC Executive Committee and quarterly MRPC Stakeholder meetings, and works closely with the MRPC Executive Committee to provide direction for MRPC deliverables, projects, and other planning needs.

How can others not serving as representatives on the Executive Committee become more involved with the MRPC and regional emergency preparedness planning?

All MRPC Stakeholders, as well as those from disciplines not currently represented in a formal manner on the MRPC are always encouraged to attend the Metro Regional Preparedness Coalition’s Stakeholder meetings, which occur on a quarterly basis and are open to all. Please visit the MRPC website at www.mrpcoalition.org for a schedule of quarterly Stakeholder meetings. In addition, all Stakeholders are encouraged to reference the MRPC website to learn about, and sign up for regional trainings and events as they are available.

Also, the MRPC may develop subcommittees and or working groups to assist in providing subject matter expertise and to assist with directing the development of regional plans. If you are interested in serving in this capacity or would like to get more involved in any way, please email hmcc@challiance.org for more details and/or to be added to the email distribution list for upcoming meetings and events.

What is the role of the existing sub-coalitions, working groups, and/or partnerships within the regional MRPC?

Most health and medical disciplines represented on the MRPC have been engaged in numerous discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary preparedness efforts/activities for many years, and have advanced local and regional public health and healthcare preparedness in significant ways.

The MRPC is not intended to supplant nor supersede existing local partnerships, resources, plans/policies, and established reporting structures. Rather, the goal of the MRPC/HMCC is to better align and coordinate these structures and efforts, which will in turn promote increased efficiency and resiliency at the local and regional levels in responding to emergency events.

The MRPC can be thought of as the larger ‘body’ of all regional public health and healthcare (ESF-8) Stakeholders. While the human body has individual parts and systems responsible to carry out critical functions and needs, each work together in an interconnected, interdependent nature in pursuit of whole person ‘health’. Similarly, the overall output, robustness, and capabilities of the region as a whole rely on each ‘part’ doing what they do best! Existing and well-functioning partnerships among disciplines at the local and regional level will only advance the region’s ability to function more efficiently for cross-discipline information sharing and coordination purposes.

How will Regional Hospital and Public Health Coordinators, PHEP Planners, and MRC Coordinators be integrated into the MRPC model?

The Regional Hospital and Public Health Coordinators, PHEP Planners, and MRC Coordinators all play very important roles in providing assistance to communities and to the region as a whole, and in promoting the ongoing development of the MRPC. Regional Coordinators and Planners work closely and collaboratively with one another and with the MRPC Program Staff to promote, enhance, and align regional PHEP, HPP, and MRC emergency preparedness capabilities, objectives, and deliverables. Regional Coordinators will work closely with Planners, sub-coalition leadership, and with MRPC Program Staff to provide support in meeting regional PHEP and HPP grant deliverables and reporting requirements.

Regional Coordinators

The MDPH Regional Hospital and Public Health Coordinator is a full time position employed by MDPH OPEM. With the development of the MRPC, the previous Regional Hospital Coordinator and Regional Public Health Coordinator roles have been combined into one position that will remain in place to serve as a liaison between the state and the region/MRPC, and to provide ongoing subject-specific technical assistance and support with regional projects and grant deliverables to regional sub-coalitions and working groups.

Public Health Planners and MRC Coordinators

Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planners as well as the MRC Coordinators are currently established as Contractor status roles via CHA, as the MRPC fiscal pass through agent of PHEP and state MRC funds. While these Contractors are employed by/paid by, and technically report to CHA, they work for, and on behalf of the emergency preparedness planning needs of local communities and the Public Health region. There is currently a PHEP Planner in both Region 4A and 4B; similarly, there is a Coordinator for the regional MRC in both 4A and 4B.

The role of the Planners is first and foremost structured around ensuring communities have the hands on help as well as technical assistance needed to ensure all local level deliverables outlined in the grant are met, however, there is much more they can assist with. Below are some examples of how the Planners may assist at the local and regional level to promote public health preparedness:

• Provide support for, and or have a direct project management role in regional level deliverables/projects, trainings, and events;
• Provide administrative leadership/support of sub-coalition meetings including agenda development, meeting minutes, and planning for upcoming needs in consultation with the Regional Public Health Planner and sub-coalition leadership;
• Manage, maintain, and track progress on local and regional deliverables and provide assistance in ensuring necessary grant related documentation/reports are prepared;
• Attend, and provide assistance to communities with staffing needs for scheduled trainings and exercises and other events;
• Draft/assist in the writing/development of local and regional plans and exercise documentation;
• Work closely with the regional MRC Coordinator to promote alignment of PHEP and MRC priorities, needs, etc;
• Serve as a resource and first point of communication for all communities and as an advocate of, and liaison to, the MRPC;
• Provide other assistance to communities in fulfillment of emergency preparedness projects, planning and functions, as needed and determined appropriate.

The role of the MRC Coordinators is to provide overall coordination and lead development of the regional MRC program, by working to implement the strategy set forth by the regional MRC Advisory group. These functions may include:

• Assist local public health (communities) in building a self-sustaining, trained, credentialed volunteer MRC, and integrate the MRC into local emergency plans;
• Manage the volunteer program, including conducting all new volunteer/member orientations;
• Develop and oversee the MRC training/events calendar, and attend all MRC volunteer trainings, as requested;
• Maintain the MRC database; coordinate and lead efforts to identify new systems, programs, and methods to maintain database functions;
• Maintain accurate records and inventory lists related to the MRC program, and purchase/distribute MRC supplies as needed, including providing access to regionally stored supplies;
• Perform criminal background and sex offender background checks on all successful applicants, verify all professional and allied healthcare providers’ licenses within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health system, and ensure all active members have necessary resources to do their job;
• Oversee, provide assistance on, and report on all MDPH deliverables, per the work plan;
• Oversee Region 4A and 4B MRC budget for BP1, with input and guidance from the MRC advisory group;
• Ensure timely and regular communication and provide regular program updates to the MRC Advisory group and to communities.

*Please reference the MRPC Organizational Chart for more information and for names and contact information of individuals currently serving in the aforementioned roles.

What are some benefits of a HMCC model? How does the MRPC envision demonstrating ‘value added’ to its constituents?

Lessons learned from numerous disaster incidents continuously references, above all, the importance of pre-existing relationships among partners as well as effective communications to support a common operating picture. The MRPC provides a forum for increased networking, relationship building and collaboration on regional efforts before an incident occurs. In addition, the MRPC may help to:

• Provide timely alert and notification to stakeholders;
• Support enhanced and streamlined communication and reporting;
• Act as a unified regional ‘voice’ and ensure a coordinated, unified message across stakeholders that may assist in projecting visible competency to, and increasing the trust of the public;
• Serve as a regional ‘hub’ or one-stop shop information clearinghouse for emergency preparedness news, links, situational briefings, resources, etc.;
• Identify new methods and solutions for utilizing and leveraging resources;
• Help address accreditation and regulatory requirements for community and institution emergency preparedness planning;
• Help address new federal expectations in the evolving national landscape of regionalized public health and health system preparedness (using resources effectively);
• Strengthen regional ‘voice’ and advocacy for regional funding and other needs;
• Incorporate, expand upon, and connect the gains previously made within communities and the region.
Below are some quick examples of Preparedness, Response/Recovery functions and activities the MRPC will engage in:

Preparedness Activities:

• Development of regional plans, policies, and procedures; supporting local and state planning efforts
• Alignment of multi-disciplinary, multi-agency interests, priorities, capabilities, and activities
• Establishment of a regional ‘information clearinghouse’ for preparedness resources and information
• Development of a cooperative multidisciplinary training and exercise program
• Regional Resource Inventory and Management
• Program Evaluation and Process Improvement Cycle

Response and Recovery Activities:

• Development and maintenance of 24/7/365 response capacity via an On-call Duty Officer Structure
• Provision of timely alerts, notification, and communications to MRPC stakeholders
• Maintaining bidirectional communication with MDPH OPEM/State ESF-8
• Coordinating regional information sharing for situational awareness and developing a common operating picture
• Coordinating regional resource sharing needs
• Support regional recovery operations following a disaster event

How will the MRPC take on the role of a coordinating body during emergencies?

In preparation for, and/or during a potential emergency event, the MRPC is intended to serve as a regional, ‘mini ESF-8 desk’ to coordinate real time information sharing, resource allocation and other response efforts for public health and healthcare partners at the regional level.

MRPC Program Staff serve in the 24/7/365 Duty Officer role (currently in development/implementation phase), to collect information and provide timely and relevant situational awareness, provide assistance in coordinating resources, and in time, may fully manage and track resources for the region. MRPC Program Staff/Duty Officer Role is a coordination role only that is designed to be a supplemental resource to stakeholders as they carry out critical response/recovery functions there is no command and control function, nor involvement in directly responding to/deploying to the scene of an incident.

What is an ESF-8?

Emergency Support Function (ESF)-8 – Public Health and Medical Services – is a federal designation that provides a mechanism for coordinated federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local resources in response to a public health and medical disaster, potential or actual incidents requiring a coordinated federal response, and/or during a developing potential health and medical emergency.

In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s State Emergency Operations Center serves as the multi-agency coordination center for the Commonwealth during an emergency. Fully activated, the SEOC is staffed according to 16 Emergency Support Functions (ESF). The many federal, state, local, volunteer, public and private organizations that comprise the ESFs are part of the ESF Team that is coordinated through MEMA. The Department of Public Health is part of the ESF Team.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is part of the ESF 8 Health and Medical Services SOP and generally staffs the ESF 8 desk at the SEOC. DPH monitors events or emergencies that may affect the public’s health, relying on a team of Duty Officers who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Department also maintains and operates an Operations Center (DOC) that is staffed by senior management and preparedness personnel when activated for emergencies or planned events such as the Boston Marathon.

Similar to this structure and activation at the state level, activation of a regional ESF-8 will not only assist with coordination among local level disciplines/partners, but will help streamline and expedite state-level assistance when/if needed.

Where should I go for more information?

The MRPC website is live, updated regularly, and will continue to have edits made and new content going forward. Please visit us at www.mrpcoalition.org.

We want to hear from you! For general questions, to be added to our MRPC regional distribution lists, or to provide suggestions/ideas for regional meetings, please contact us directly at:

Jendy Dunlop, MRPC Program Manager
jdunlop@challiance.org
(781) 397-6559

Ari Winograd, MRPC Planning and Operations Coordinator
awinograd@challiance.org
(781) 397-6576

Download a copy of the MRPC FAQ Document by clicking here: MRPC FAQ