Medical Advice: ESF8 Health and Medical Coalition: Creating bonds that strengthen disaster response

The world can be a dangerous place. There are natural disasters such as hurricanes, man-made disasters such as bioterrorism, and infectious disease outbreaks such as H1N1. When it comes to preparing and managing for these incidents and/or outbreaks, the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) is equipped with one of the county’s most valuable resources—The Polk Emergency Support Function 8 Health and Medical Coalition (ESF8 H&M).

Established in November 2013, the Polk ESF8 Health and Medical Coalition is a healthcare preparedness coalition made up of a group of healthcare organizations in a specified area. These groups work together and share knowledge to enhance the response to emergencies or disasters. The primary purpose for any healthcare coalition is to promote situational awareness for its member organizations and provide networking opportunities. The building of coalitions is a federal initiative and a requirement of the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) Cooperative Agreement funded by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

The formation of the Polk ESF8 Health and Medical Coalition ensures that local providers and other healthcare partners plan collaboratively for the risks facing the healthcare community and identify available local resources.

Through training, exercise, and networking Polk ESF8 H&M Coalition is building a solid foundation within Polk’s medical services. The immediate goal is to build strong relationships among the healthcare community by developing by-laws, appointing committee leaders, and growing membership. The Polk ESF8 H&M Coalition continues to increase membership with a variety of medical services: private practice, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, dialysis centers, hospitals, blood banks, etc.

The formation of the Polk ESF8 H&M Coalition helps strengthen relationships between like-entities and expand the county’s ability to recover from a variety of healthcare emergencies and disasters.

To become part of the Polk ESF8 Health and Medical Coalition, please contact

Jenn Brandow, Preparedness Planner with the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, at


story by DR. ULYEE CHOE, Director of FDOH-Polk

About the Author: Dr. Ulyee Choe, an infectious disease physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) and as a Polk County Medical Association member. For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit

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