The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and the Special Pathogens Excellence in Clinical Treatment, Readiness, and Education program (SPECTRE), under the direction of Dr. Susan McLellan, supports the Regional Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Center (RESPTC) Cooperative Agreement of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR). The goal of this project is to sustain and improve health care system preparedness for emerging special pathogens within the Health and Human Services Region VI in coordination with the National Special Pathogen System of Care Strategy (NSPS). This 5 year project will strengthen the preparedness of Region VI through the following objectives: (1) ensure a well-trained and practiced workforce capable of responding to special pathogens threats, (2) establish redundancies in research support to allow for rapid initiation of clinical trials and support special pathogens research, (3) educate healthcare workers in safe care practices for the treatment of high consequence infectious diseases, and (4) coordinate care and readiness across the region. These objectives will be administered through the UTMB SPECTRE program which supports the UTMB Biocontainment Care Unit (BCU). Important activities will include the continuation and expansion of recruitment and training programs for BCU staff, expanding training opportunities in special pathogens preparedness for other health care facilities in the region, convening the state health departments represented in Region VI and other academic, public health, and medical support partners, and determining gaps in preparedness and specific needs across the region. Networking to increase research capacity for special pathogens care both institutionally and regionally will also be increased and prioritized. It is expected that achievement of these activities will result in enhanced and ongoing communication and coordination throughout the region, an updated CONOPS f
or the transport of special pathogens patients, identification of training needs throughout the region, production of educational materials to address these needs, and an increase in resources available to support special pathogens research. The products and deliverables from this project will consist of improved staff trainings, an expansion of the number of trained BCU staff members, completion of exercises with partners including after-action reviews with corrective action plans, identification and documentation of needs for the region with a focus on special populations, production of educational modules and materials for regional dissemination, and expansion of research capacity and activities. Funding of this application will allow UTMB to continue to serve as the Region VI RESPTC and to work with the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center (NETEC) and ASPR towards the ultimate goal of assuring access to high-quality special pathogen care across the region and the U.S.