Community Planning Framework Available to Help with Medical Surge Planning

Medical surge – defined by the CDC as “the ability of a healthcare system to provide adequate medical care during events that exceed the limits of the normal medical infrastructure of an affected community” – is a major concern among the healthcare community during a natural disaster, disease outbreak, or act of terrorism. While many hospitals experience varying degrees of medical surge on a daily basis, events such as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic remind us that plans to address this issue on a much larger scale must be developed.

To assist healthcare systems and community planners in the development and strengthening of medical surge plans, the CDC developed the Community Planning Framework. This framework addresses five major topic areas related to medical surge planning:

  • Building Planning Teams and Coalitions
  • Models of Healthcare Delivery
  • Alternate Care Systems
  • Essential Healthcare Services
  • Crisis Standards of Care

These topic areas provide the foundation for the Framework’s chapters. After focusing on which partners should be involved in medical surge planning, the Framework helps planners establish a baseline of how a healthcare system delivers care on a day-to-day basis. Each subsequent chapter looks at increasing levels of medical surge demands, from moderate to heavy, and offers guidance on how to develop your plans. Every chapter contains a wealth of information, including definitions, expectations, applicability and scope, assumptions, potential issues and barriers, templates and tools, as well as a list of resources. In addition, each chapter outlines which Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) capabilities it addresses.

The Community Planning Framework is not intended to tell community planners what to do; rather, it provides information and resources designed to help them think about how to plan for medical surge. This approach means that the Community Planning Framework is scalable, and can be adapted to meet a community’s healthcare needs, particularly during a public health emergency.

For more information on the Community Planning Framework, or to download a copy, please visit

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