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close this bookHealth Services Organization in the Event of Disaster (PAHO, 1989, 129 pages)
close this folderChapter 2: Organization of the health system
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View the documentClassification of medical care centers for disaster situations

Classification of medical care centers for disaster situations

The need to organize a nationwide medical care network for disaster situations requires a definition of the various categories of health service institutions.

Starting from the premise that the hospital should be the coordinator of medical care services in the event of major disasters, the key considerations in this classification should be capacity and funding, interconnection of the institutions forming the medical care network, and regional characteristics. The classification need not be related in any way to the country's breakdown by political subdivisions.

The following terms will be used in the classification of medical care centers:

· National Medical Center - This would be the highest level hospital center, with human and physical resources for such subspecialties as traumatology, burns, ophthalmology, etc.

· Lead Hospital or Regional Base Hospital - The medical care facility that would assume responsibility for hospital care in a region, state, province, or department; would coordinate emergency care with other centers having smaller resources or capacities.

· Satellite Medical Care Units - Smaller medical care establishments, with hospital capacity but with only limited human and material resources; such units would provide services in obstetrics, pediatrics, surgery, and medicine, coordinating their work with the appropriate lead hospital or regional base hospital.

· Special Medical Care Centers - Facilities with hospital capacity but with action limited to a particular specialty or specialties; in an emergency situation, such facilities could be used as satellite medical care units or as evacuation centers for patients under observation, or for postoperative patients who have no complications or where conditions can be treated in the facility in question, relieving pressure on the regional hospitals.

· Medical Care Posts - This category includes primary care centers with no hospital capacity, situated in rural or suburban areas, and possessing only limited human resources; depending upon the circumstances, they would operate either as first aid stations or casualty sorting centers.