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National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness
for Culturally Diverse Communities

Case Study: National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities

The fully content-managed web portal uses NetReach's Content Management System (CMS), cmScribe, which features new advanced software tools designed to deliver thousands of annotated and cross-referenced resources.

Hurricane, Flood, Wildfire, Pandemic Flu, or Terrorist Attack… According to Dr. Dennis P. Andrulis, director of the Center for Health Equality at Drexel University's School of Public Health, until disaster-preparedness addresses the needs of all groups [of people] everyone is seriously at risk.

In 2007, a national study on the subject "Preparing Racially and Ethnically Diverse Communities for Public Health Emergencies," issued by a team of Drexel University researchers, reported that in the last 30 years, racial and ethnic minorities figured into programs and materials related to disaster planning just 10% of the time.

A review of academic literature by the research team showed that minorities, when compared with others, anticipated less risk from disasters, were more skeptical of warnings, were less likely to evacuate, were less likely to receive disaster education, and relied more on family and TV for information.

"The cost of inaction, as evidenced by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, offers a graphic portrait of what happens when the unique needs of communities are not part of preparedness planning and execution," the study warned.

Fast forward one year later. In a press release dated June 11, 2008, the School of Public Health at Drexel University reports that a broad-based panel of public health and health care agencies and organizations, including its own Center for Health Equality, have joined together to release a consensus statement and detailed guidelines for public health disaster preparedness in minority communities across the country.

The press release continues: “Our nation has made strides since Katrina in preparing for public health emergencies,” said Joxel Garcia, M.D., M.B.A. Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the HHS Secretary’s primary advisor on matters involving the nation’s public health and science. “But, sadly, we know from experience that minority Americans, particularly those who are lower income, bear a disproportionate toll of injury, disease, and death from emergencies. This consensus is a rally cry for us to prepare for emergencies in a way that protects all of us.”

Coinciding with the release of the consensus statement was the launch of the National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities. The Center, an initiative of the HHS Office of Minority Health and the Drexel University School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equality, is the nation’s first online clearinghouse and information exchange site designed to help eliminate disparities for culturally diverse communities across all stages of an emergency.

NetReach’s cmScribe Advanced Application Building Tools:

Phase I of the project concentrated on delivery of a robust custom clearinghouse application — an online centralized database of resources — that is fully content managed and maintained by Drexel staff. NetReach’s cmScribe Content Management System (CMS) includes new advanced application building tools that allowed for rapid development and cost efficiencies during development. Also, since the clearinghouse application's business rules are kept in a separate database, code maintenance is non-existent, which will give Drexel a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the CMS software. Extreme flexibility in how the relational database elements are linked and displayed, means, for example, that the client could structure the clearinghouse resources to have linked categories and sub-categories, i.e., Policy included sub-categories such as Federal Law, State/Local Law, National Standard, etc.

Project highlights include:

  • Extremely rapid prototyping and development to meet aggressive project funding schedule.
  • cmScribe’s advanced tools allow for rapid development and project cost efficiencies.
  • The Clearinghouse:
    • Keyword and Advanced Search and filtering capabilities. The client was able to specify which elements of the resources they would like to have as filters for searching. For example, being able to filter by State was useful to them, but filtering by Organization was not.
    • Browse by Type, Topic and Special (i.e., Community, Language, Organization, etc). cmScribes’s resource editor allows the client to add to and manage these categories. The Browse by navigation and function is automatically updated throughout the site to reflect changes made to the categories via the editor.
    • Recent Additions. cmScribe’s resource editor allows the client to publish featured resources to a special area on the home page.
  • The website is section 508 compliant.
  • Integrated web statistics and user metrics.
  • Submit a Resource. The ability to have resource submissions from outside parties, the site was launched on June 11, 2008 and had received 14 such submissions by June 27.
  • E-newsletter integration. Allows for seamless sign-up to the client’s Constant Contact e-newsletter list from the website.


Here's what our clients said...

“Thank you for your fantastic work to date on the website. As Jonathan indicated, there is significant interest and enthusiasm in the field around this website and folks are already very much impressed!"
Nadia J. Siddiqui, MPH, Health Policy Analyst

“We’ve been busy making changes to the website and adding resources since our tutorial. I can’t get over how easy it is to add new resources!”

“As you may remember, I attended a community preparedness conference at Yale last week and gave folks the opportunity to have a look at the preliminary version of the site. I am pleased to say that the site was a huge success and very well received for both its function and layout! Thanks again for all of your hard work on the site over the past few months.”
Jonathan Purtle, MSc, Health Policy Analyst

Here's what their visitors are saying...

“Your site is a great resource and I look forward to using it often."
American Red Cross Associate

“Your site is terrific and I will forward the link to all 16 of our preparedness training partners throughout NJ because we have tremendous ethnic and cultural diversity in this state."
New Jersey Public Health Official

“The National Resource Center is a resource that is long overdue. Let me know if I can ever do anything to promote its mission."
Academic Researcher

“Thanks for this great information. We've already linked to it on our "Emergency Preparedness Useful Links" webpage."
DHHS Associate

For more information about the Diversity Preparedness Clearinghouse or other Netreach projects, please contact us at 215-283-2300.