June 13, 2024

Reed & Whitehouse Announce $5.4 Million for RI Emergency Preparedness

CDC funding helps RI, cities, and towns coordinate and prepare for emergencies

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help ensure that Rhode Island’s medical facilities and health care systems are prepared for natural disasters and public health emergencies, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced that the Rhode Island Department of Health will receive $5,415,557 to continue improving preparedness and health outcomes for a wide range of public health threats. 

Rhode Island will receive $5 million through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement and over $415,557 through the Cities Readiness Initiative, which allows cities to work with surrounding communities and their health departments to create coordinated response plans.  The federal grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The federal PHEP funds are designed to enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies such as natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires, floods, infectious disease outbreaks, and terrorist attacks.  PHEP funds help emergency management, fire departments, law enforcement, hospitals, primary care providers, volunteers, information technology staff, and more work together and plan ahead to ensure the health, well-being, and preparedness of our communities is addressed during a range of emergencies.

“This is a smart investment in bolstering public safety and public health.  These federal funds will help ensure the Rhode Island Department of Health and local hospitals have evidence-based guidance and operational plans in place to quickly and effectively respond to a range of emergencies.  It will bolster the state’s capacity to deal with pandemics or deliver treatment to the public in emergencies,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal funding for HHS programs.  “Our dedicated health workers and emergency responders are critical when disaster strikes.  I am pleased to support Rhode Island’s robust preparedness system and ensure health and safety officials are ready and coordinating when we need them most.”

“This federal investment will help strengthen Rhode Island’s defenses against emerging public health threats,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “By putting funding directly into communities, we are supporting local emergency preparedness and increasing response capacity to keep Rhode Islanders safe.”

According to the American Journal of Public Health: “PHEP prescribes 15 capabilities that a jurisdiction must fulfill to prepare for and respond to disasters and allows most health departments to maintain at least one staff member who works as a PHEP practitioner. These capabilities require practitioners to converse in scientific, medical, managerial, and sociological languages. Most, If not all, health departments also require the assistance of outside agencies to fulfill their PHEP capabilities, necessitating strong relationships with partners.”

The CDC estimates that Rhode Island has over 55 PHEP-funded staff, including epidemiologists, laboratorians, nurses, planners, IT specialists, administrative staff, statisticians, and other positions.

The PHEP cooperative agreement was most recently reauthorized through the bipartisan Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI) in 2019.  While many existing PAHPA provisions were set to expire in September 2023, Congress has temporarily extended several provisions until December 31, 2024 under the Consolidated Appropriations law (P.L. 118-42).

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921