American College of Healthcare Executives

Open letter To the American College of Healthcare Executives

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The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), one of the Nation’s most powerful and influential institutions for shaping behavior for those who run the country’s Hospitals and Healthcare organizations, has failed to advocate for a robust s strategy for Homeland Security Healthcare Preparedness.

Repeated failures in early attempts to attract its membership to participate in all-hazards professional education programs discouraged any meaningful future offerings. The Post-Cold war call for the industry to prepare for Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD) has its roots in the concern that the feared WMDs may well fall into the hands of known and/or unknown non-state terrorists. President Reagan’s November 1988 Executive Order 12656 tasked the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop a plan to mobilize the nation’s healthcare industry to meet the challenges posed by these threats.

Weapons of mass destruction, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives with or without radioactive materials, still pose a realistic threat from non-state actors, however an emerging threat includes sovereign state actors. In response to the escalating danger, post-Hurricane Katrina Natural Disasters and Pandemics were added to WMD to form All-Hazards Readiness.

PreparationEvents over the last two decades are rich with evidenced-based material which would convince any organization that we are living in a hostile environment and should be preparing for measures to reduce our vulnerabilities: the tower bombings, the Oklahoma City bombings, 9/11, hurricanes and tropical storms, tornadoes, derechos, floods, earthquakes, etc. all point undeniably to the need for higher levels of readiness within the public health and healthcare sector.

There is little evidence that the ACHE leadership or collective membership see these all-hazards threats as priority issues. Feedback from yearly surveys of the membership reflect that it is hard for all-hazards to make 1% on the perceived most important challenges they face as Chief Executive Officers.

These are not just the run-of-the –mill Healthcare Administrators – they run the system, and:

  • Patients depend on them to provide for a safe and secure locus of care.
  • Employees depend on them to keep them safe from workplace violence and other hazards.
  • Investors depend on them for fiscal stewardship.
  • Board members/trustees depend on them to protect their reputations and keep them out of jail.
  • Communities depend on them to make informed decisions which facilitate their care in times of crisis.

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