Editor’s Note: CIDRAP’s Promising Practices: Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Tools ( online database showcases peer-reviewed practices, including useful tools to help others with their planning. This article is one of a series exploring the development of these practices. We hope that describing the process and context of these practices enhances pandemic planning.

Apr 6, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – When dispensing a large number of medications during an emergency, one site might not be enough. Many US communities are seeking alternate methods of dispensing. One such method, which involves distributing medication through some agencies to reduce the influx at public sites, is called the “Push Partner Program.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the need for communities to provide prophylaxis to 100% of their population within 48 hours. Some planners feel general public point-of-dispensing (POD) sites could not meet such high demand in a short time. The Push Partner Program, which is being used in several states, is one way to ease the burden on public POD sites.

This dispensing strategy involves “pushing” medications to partner agencies, such as community-based organizations and private businesses. These agencies then dispense the medication to the people in their organizations such as employees, employee family members, and even clients, if applicable. Unlike the general PODs, partner agencies are not open to dispense to the general public during an emergency.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is conducting a survey on the partnership between local health departments and their push partner agencies, said Katie Dunkle, a NACCHO program manager. She said she believes the alternate dispensing option is becoming increasingly popular.

“It is pretty overwhelming to hand out medications to the entire public within such a short period of time. A lot of health departments have started looking to community organizations and businesses to partner with to better accomplish this task in the event of an emergency,” Dunkle said.

The Oklahoma and Oregon departments of health have had Push Partner Programs for more than 2 years, which may reduce demand at the regular PODs during an emergency.

Mark Schultz, LPN, MSM, is the western district coordinator for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Our largest push partner is Oklahoma University. They are able to dispense medication to up to 60,000 people during an emergency,” he said.