Hundreds of Health Care Professionals, First Responders Gather for 2024 Virginia Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Summit in Richmond

April 24, 2024

Collaboration Among Health Care Providers, First Responders, Stakeholders Helps Virginia Prepare for Public Health Emergency Situations

‘Human Caused Incidents’ is the Theme for this Year’s Summit that Brings Together Key Stakeholders from Across the Commonwealth and Beyond for Networking, Collaboration, and Best Practice Sharing

RICHMOND, VA – Health care organizations, first responders, public safety organizations, and public sector agencies are essential partners in responding to disaster events when they occur. Today (Wednesday, April 24) in Richmond, an array of emergency response professionals from various sectors have gathered for the 2024 Virginia Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Summit – an annual event focused on shared learning, collaboration, and coordination to strengthen Virginia’s preparedness infrastructure for calamities that may lie ahead.

“Human Caused Incidents” is the theme for this year’s Summit presented by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA). The event has attracted roughly 250 people to The Westin – Richmond for educational programming and breakout sessions featuring renowned speakers and leaders with experience and subject matter expertise in responding to chemical emergencies, cybersecurity threats, workplace violence episodes, health care emergency response, and human trafficking.

Featured Summit speakers include Dr. James F. Kravec, who will share perspective about the health care response to the 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio; Special Agent in Charge Stanley M. Meador and Supervisory Special Agent Benjamin P. Blome of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Richmond Field Office, who will provide a cybersecurity threat briefing; and Tanya Gould, Anti-Human Trafficking Director from the Office of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, who will share insights on state government efforts to fight human trafficking and her personal experience as a survivor. Welcome remarks will be provided by VCU Health Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Elliott, PharmD, MSHA, FACHE, who is Chair of the VHHA Board of Directors; and VHHA Emergency Preparedness Director Robert Hawkins. Other speakers and panelists include leaders from Bon Secours – Richmond, Inova Health System, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Sentara Health, the VB Strong Center, and the Virginia Poison Center. View a program brochure here.

The Summit is presented in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program (VHEMP), the Commonwealth’s regional healthcare coalitions (the Eastern Virginia Healthcare Coalition, the Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition, the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System, and the Southwest Virginia Healthcare Coalition), and with partial funding provided through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Hospital Preparedness Program Cooperative Agreement within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Strong Summit participation is a reflection of the broader cooperation among Virginia’s public health and emergency management stakeholders who collaborate to maintain Virginia’s high level of preparation for public health emergencies. That level of readiness has been recognized in the latest report by Trust for America’s Health, Ready or Not 2024: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, which again places Virginia in the top tier of states. The report measures state levels of preparedness to respond to a wide range of health emergencies including infectious outbreaks, natural disasters, and manmade events. Previous annual reports from Trust for America’s Health – including those compiled during the lengthy response to the COVID-19 pandemic – also ranked Virginia in the top tier of states in 2023, 2022, 2021, and 2020. Virginia has also been ranked among the top states in the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHPSI) report that evaluates state readiness to respond to public health emergencies.

“Emergency response planning across sectors is critically important,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Virginia hospitals are part of a broader community of professionals and organizations working behind the scenes to protect public health in the event of mass casualty situations. Extensive preparation and cooperation involving many stakeholders is necessary to respond to large scale public health emergencies. We are proud to host the 2024 Virginia Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Summit to help facilitate preparedness collaboration as we work to safeguard public health.”

VHHA extends its gratitude to program participants and speakers, as well as the following sponsors whose support helps make this year’s event possible:

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 111 hospitals and 26 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health. Its vision is through the power of collaboration to be recognized as a driving force behind making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.