CNHS Receives Grant for Nurse Emergency Preparedness

Posted: October 22, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Amy Biderman

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a $2 million grant to George Mason’s College of Nursing and Health Science (CNHS), in partnership with George Washington University’s graduate nursing program, to develop training that will prepare nurses to respond to injuries from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The grant was announced at a press conference yesterday at George Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

The grant will extend the capacity of work under way by CNHS, in collaboration with the Response to Emergencies and Disasters Institute (READI), to provide leadership and strategic planning for the education of nurses as emergency first responders in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The work of the college under this initiative has established the first capacity-building efforts for nurses’ disaster/emergency preparedness in this region.

With funding from the new grant, CNHS will:

  • Conduct a regional assessment of health care service organizations to determine the implications of their disaster response plans regarding roles, responsibilities, and expectations of nurses in the institutional capacities they are expected to serve
  • Create “virtual disaster team” case studies that address prototype roles for nurses in all sectors during disasters. The case studies will be part of a web-based clearinghouse of “Best Practices Educational Materials”
  • Offer an online mechanism for nurses to obtain “on demand” Continuing Education Units for approved courses and learning modules in the web portal

Presenting the grant, C. Suzanne Mencer, director of the DHS Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, said both schools should be proud of what they have accomplished so far. Pointing to the competitive application process within DHS, Mencer said the schools were among only 14 recipients who received a grant out of more than 200 applications. “We expect great things,” she said.

Provost Peter Stearns accepted the grant on behalf of George Mason. He said the opportunity to participate in the READI Program “builds on a long tradition” that started in 1984 when George Mason and George Washington University began their collaboration. “This partnership will amplify and solidify this constructive relationship,” he said.

Noting that nurses comprise the largest percentage of the health care workforce, Ellen Dawson, CNHS associate professor and Mason’s principal investigator for the DHS grant, said the project will “try to reach nurses in virtually every setting.” She explained that the project has three objectives: increasing nurses’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities in a WMD event; providing nurses with comprehensive emergency management training focused on “special needs” individuals who are limited in their ability to care for themselves because of illnesses and impairments; and evaluating the effectiveness of a comprehensive emergency management training program for nurses. “We are ready to get started,” she said.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce-Justice-State Subcommittee, which funded the grant, also spoke at the press conference. Emphasizing the ongoing threat of terrorist acts in United States, Wolf noted that READI is the first school of its kind on the East Coast and has trained 3,600 first responders. “The nursing component [of the project] will prepare nurses to respond to victims in the event of a WMD attack,” he said. “Medical personnel must be prepared with up-to-date training.”

Other participants in the press conference included John Williams, provost and vice president for health affairs, George Washington University; Jean Johnson, senior associate dean of health care sciences in the School of Medicine and Health Care Sciences, George Washington University; and P.J. Maddox, CNHS professor, who will serve as the co-principal investigator of the project.

DHS grant presentation
University and government officials assembled to announce the $2 million grant. From left, they are Jean Johnson, senior associate dean of health care sciences in the School of Medicine and Health Care Sciences, George Washington University (GWU); Peter Stearns, provost, George Mason; John Williams, provost and vice president for health affairs, GWU; Ellen Dawson, College of Nursing and Health Science (CNHS) associate professor; C. Suzanne Mencer, director, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness; P.J. Maddox, CNHS professor; and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.).
Photo by Evan Cantwell

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