September 29th, 2014 9:41 am ET - Blog Administrator
During the January 2014 winter storm that crippled the Atlanta metro area and left thousands stranded on the city’s highways, businesses stepped up to the plate to assist those with nowhere to turn. Home Depot opened 26 stores in Georgia and Alabama to shelter stranded travelers, and other local stores like Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and Target welcomed weary – and cold – drivers who abandoned their cars when it was obvious they were not going to make it home that night. These businesses provided the community with resources and services when people needed them most.
In planning for public health emergencies, communities are quickly learning that businesses are true partners in response and recovery efforts. The private sector has the expertise, resources, and systems that operate every day that can assist in a public health response, be it for a pandemic, terrorist event, or natural disaster. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, big businesses used their commercial supply chain to deliver water, food, and other supplies. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says, “when the going gets rough, businesses gets moving.”
Staff at CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile – the largest global stockpile of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for a public health emergency – are working to help state and local agencies forge these partnerships for both distribution and dispensing efforts and as a way to increase access to medicines in an event that affects that entire community. Partnering with public health is good business, too. These private partners are members of the community and when disaster strikes, they can help keep their employees safe and healthy and their businesses up and running.
“As a global manufacturer of computers and computer services, we have committed ourselves to providing our customers with quality products and services,” said a representative from Dell, the information technology powerhouse that has partnered with public health to assist in dispensing medicine to its employees during an emergency. “We are doing the same thing with our employees. We want them to feel good about coming to work and their company taking care of them. That’s why we have gotten very much involved in the points of dispensing program that is being offered by many of our health departments around the country.”
In addition to serving as closed points of dispensing, which allows businesses to provide medicine to their own employees, companies also are coordinating with CDC and their public health departments to provide volunteers, to assist in communications, and to serve the larger community as public dispensing sites. This type of collaboration and partnership between the private and public sector will augment and support a public health response and ultimately help keep Americans prepared, safe, and protected.
For more information on how businesses can partner for preparedness, visithttp://www.cdc.gov/phpr/partnerships/.