The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a sample agreement for collaboration during an emergency between a public health department and a community-based organization (CBO) that serves vulnerable populations. The project utilizes the existing databases and networks that CBOs have established within the community to reach vulnerable community members. Therefore, public health would be able to use the MOU as an alternative or supplement to a special needs registry.
The agreement describes detailed roles that both organizations will undertake in the event of an emergency. The responsibilities of the health department include making provisions for at-risk populations during an emergency through notification and early warning; developing and disseminating relevant public health messages; assessing the impact of the emergency on specific populations; and providing technical assistance to the CBO. The responsibilities of the CBO include identifying needs of at-risk populations; coordinating supportive services, nutrition, and shelter; resolving complaints and concerns; communicating between the health department, service providers, and clients; developing a database and notifying the health department of at-risk individuals' locations and specific needs; maintaining a 24-hour helpline; activating community resources; and acting as a client advocate.
One reviewer called the MOU a great example of government working collaboratively with a community partner to ensure that special populations are identified and cared for during a public health emergency. The MOU is adaptable, and it could be used as a template for creating agreements with other CBOs.