The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Tom Leatherbee and Rachel Knoblach

Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. Within our Recovery division, we proudly staff a team of subject matter experts (SME’s) dedicated to helping clients navigate complex federal disaster programs and secure every available funding source. Today, we highlight two of Hagerty’s Recovery professionals supporting our American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) team.

1. Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.

Tom Leatherbee: After college, I ran several political campaigns and worked in the insurance industry. Most of my professional career has been in public administration within the City of Syracuse, NY, and the City of Del City, OK. During my 15 years with Del City, I worked in Planning, Community Development, Economic Development, and City Administration departments and led efforts to refocus all city activities through a lens of positive redevelopment. Del City is a tremendously flood-prone community, which led to my involvement with state and national stormwater organizations. This eventually led me to Hagerty.

Rachel Knoblach: I was in graduate school and working as a research assistant for the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCCJ) at Florida State University (FSU) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to my campus closing, classes being postponed, and the undergraduate courses I was teaching transitioned online. During this time, I began to look for an opportunity to support what was mounting to be an unprecedented emergency response to a global pandemic. I took an internship with an emergency management firm supporting the COVID-19 response in my community, and in the span of six months, I assisted in the development of two COVID-19-informed planning frameworks, participated in emergency response drills, supported disaster recovery projects, and processed invoices totaling over $450 million for frontline healthcare workers. After finishing my master’s program, I reached out to a former colleague about opportunities with Hagerty Consulting — a decision that would ultimately lead to a fulfilling career with this company. 

2. What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management?

Tom Leatherbee: Emergency management is a microcosm of our society and an opportunity for creative problem-solving. In Oklahoma, I played a part in creating the nation’s first volunteer flood disaster response team, which allowed me to experience, learn, and then teach about response, recovery, mitigation, and resilience. I find it particularly rewarding when policy and politics can come together to help impacted communities rebuild in a smart, sustainable way.

In my role managing several engagements within the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) portfolio, I have the opportunity to prepare detailed program design work. On any given day, I support a diverse number of projects with varying goals.

Rachel Knoblach: Working in the field of Emergency Management during the COVID-19 pandemic response creates a sense of urgency and purpose. State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) governments have been preparing for, responding to, and recovering from wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters while actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day, I have an opportunity to help a community work through challenges created and exacerbated by COVID-19. I work closely with our clients to build programs designed to deploy ARPA funds in ways that address their community’s most pressing recovery needs. This work helps communities respond to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild, and be better prepared on the long road to recovery.

3. How does your work as a Federal Funds Management professional support the firm’s overall mission: helping people before, during, and after disasters?

Tom Leatherbee: Federal Funds Management is an umbrella concept that includes identifying needs, prioritizing solutions, matching available funding streams, and implementing projects while focusing on effective administration and developing a robust compliance infrastructure. Effective Federal Funds Management allows a community to go beyond basic recovery efforts to seek structural and functional changes that will reduce future risk and build toward a sustainable future. Because it includes the entire funding lifecycle, from community engagement and needs assessment to program evaluation and audit, Federal Funds Management is what unites preparedness, mitigation, resilience-building, response, and recovery activities.

Rachel Knoblach: As a Federal Funds Management professional, I help our clients understand how to address their needs by pursuing these federal funding opportunities. The unprecedented funding opportunities stemming from the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides communities across the country with the resources to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. These resources create opportunities for historic investments in broadband, transportation, and water infrastructure; mental health and housing interventions; and mitigation and resiliency planning. Communities can leverage the $1.2 trillion under the IIJA and their allocation under the $350 billion SLFRF program to amplify the impact of available resources on local response and recovery efforts.

4. How can communities best utilize their ARPA allocations?

Tom Leatherbee: ARPA, and particularly the SLFRF program, was created with two goals: to respond to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate investments that would foster future resilience. Whether designing a program to respond to a negative economic impact or scoping an eligible infrastructure project, communities should prioritize long-term solutions over the temptation of short-term successes. SLFRF program funds are some of the most flexible federal dollars ever made available to communities, which underscores the need for meaningful outreach to internal and external stakeholders to identify fundamental needs within the community. SLFRF funds should work to leverage other available funding streams, including those contained in the IIJA.

Rachel Knoblach: ARPA funding is designed to help communities respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its myriad of impacts. Governments can best utilize this opportunity by leveraging and investing in federal support from the ARPA to bridge gaps in local budgets, invest in infrastructure, and meet the needs of impacted and disproportionately impacted populations and communities. One recommended approach is to assess needs, identify resources available for each need, and prioritize funding opportunities. For example, communities interested in investing in infrastructure may use SLFRF under the revenue loss eligibility category to meet the non-federal cost share or matching requirements for a variety of programs under the IIJA.

5. What are you passionate about outside of work?

Tom Leatherbee: I have a 12-year-old who plays hockey all across North America, and I have been lucky enough to get involved as a youth hockey coach. I also have three large dogs and a small turtle who occasionally attend and contribute to project meetings.

Rachel Knoblach: On Friday nights, my home office transforms into a stained glass studio. I spend my mornings and cloudy days creating beautiful suncatchers and plant stakes. When I am not working in my studio, I enjoy walking through the woods and along the water in search of fossils, geodes, pottery, and sea glass.

To learn more about Hagerty’s Federal Funds Management services, visit our service line page here.

Tom Leatherbee is a public administrator with over 15 years of experience in planning, administration, and regulatory compliance matters. As a Senior Managing Associate at Hagerty, he has provided significant support for recovery and investment projects stemming from ARPA efforts in numerous county programs. 

Rachel Knoblach is an associate with diverse leadership experience across a variety of fields. Ms. Knoblach has contributed to a diverse portfolio of ARPA projects, and she has supported work related to ARPA program design, administration, compliance, and reporting. Ms. Knoblach has advised policymakers and industry leaders on strategic approaches from utilizing federal funds to complement existing priorities to addressing community recovery needs.

Extension of the 100% Federal Cost Share for COVID-19 FEMA Public Assistance Funding

On March 1, 2022, President Biden directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to extend the 100 percent federal cost share for Public Assistance (PA) awarded under COVID-19 Stafford Act declarations.

This means FEMA will fully fund PA-eligible emergency work to combat the pandemic performed between January 20, 2020 and July 1, 2022. A subsequent FEMA Advisory announcing this extension indicated that after July 1, 2022, the federal cost share will be reduced to 90 percent, which is still higher than the statutory minimum 75 percent.

What is a federal cost share?

FEMA provides PA funding to eligible state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and private nonprofits (PNPs) on a reimbursement basis via a cost share. Typically, the federal share is 75 percent, and the local share is 25 percent, unless there is catastrophic damage. In this scenario, if a local government or nonprofit hospital performs PA-eligible work that costs $100,000, FEMA would fund $75,000. 100 percent federal cost shares are rare. This latest extension adds to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 and federal efforts to support communities in response and recovery from the pandemic.

How does the federal cost share extension apply to other PA deadlines?

The deadline to complete eligible COVID-19 emergency work remains open “until further notice.” FEMA has stipulated that it will provide at least 30 days’ notice prior to establishing a deadline; however, it is not yet clear if FEMA will tie this deadline to the United States (US) Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Health Emergency (PHE), which was renewed effective January 16, 2022, or use another basis. Therefore, while the 100 percent federal cost share is extended through July 1, 2022, Applicants should monitor FEMA guidance on the deadline to complete eligible work, which is not dictated by the federal cost share.

Is there a catch?

Yes, FEMA PA funding is challenging to obtain and retain. Regulation and policy that underpin the program are complex, with heavy documentation requirements. Moreover, FEMA issued several forms of disaster-specific guidance and policy for COVID-19 declarations, which adds to the complexity.

Therefore, the extension to the 100 percent federal cost share does not automatically mean FEMA will fund all COVID-19 work. Funding is based on activities supported by policy that Applicants can demonstrate were necessary and reasonable based on prevailing circumstances. As such, SLTTs and PNPs submitting PA claims should be ready to explain how existing or projected needs, coupled with public health guidance, caused them to incur costs related to specific COVID-19 work.

Wondering how to pursue this federal funding? Here are a few important tips,

  • Submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) if you have not already.
  • Familiarize yourself with PA policy, COVID-19 disaster-specific guidance and the COVID-19 Streamlined Project Application.
  • Track and document all potentially PA-eligible work and costs.
  • Separate work and costs performed after July 1, 2022, since FEMA will likely require new project applications for work under the reduced 90 percent federal cost share.
  • Be prepared to demonstrate that all costs were necessary and reasonable.
  • Justify all COVID-19 work in the context of applicable federal, state and/or local public health guidance.

Ari Renoni is a Deputy Director of Recovery Programs with more than a decade of experience working with government and international public organizations with emergency management programs and policy. He has a deep familiarity with federal policy, given his experience supporting FEMA projects for clients in New York, California, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida.

Neetika Prabhakar Cox is an Independent Management Consultant with Hagerty Consulting. With nearly two decades of experience supporting emergency management programs and FEMA projects, she is a subject-matter expert as it relates to the intersection of federal policy and business analytics with public sector operations.

Hagerty can help! Contact us today to learn more about FEMA PA and other federal recovery programs.

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A January of COVID-19 Like No Other, but Hope is on the Horizon

Nearly three years ago, no one could have predicted that we would soon be in the midst of the public health crisis of our lifetime; 1.35 million daily cases, 136,640 in the hospital, and 1,700 dying from COVID-19 related illness per day. As new individuals get the Omicron variant related symptoms including: a scratchy throat, muscle aches, lower back pain, fatigue, runny nose, nausea, and a headache they find themselves unable to get a doctor’s appointment and unable to find rapid viral antigen tests or the gold standard PCR test to determine if they have the COVID-19 virus. The United States (US) Public Health System has reached a breaking point and is on the brink. Crisis of Care Standards are being implemented in several states and others have them at the ready. This means decisions are being made as to who gets certain levels of care and treatment and who does not. Emergency Departments are temporarily closing and critical services like substance abuse day treatment programs or surgeries are being canceled. Hospital beds are full in some areas and there are not enough healthcare workers to care for patients in 25% of hospitals across the country. This equates to 1 out of every 4 hospitals in the US reporting critical staffing shortages to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Another 100 US hospitals anticipate being in a staffing crisis within the week.

Hospital expenses per patient are up over 26% from pre-pandemic levels as a result of premiums being paid to try and procure temporary agency nurses to staff positions vacated by burnout, retirement, and/or caregivers becoming sick with COVID-19 themselves. In many states, finding doctors and nurses has become so difficult that what would ordinarily be a violation of basic infection control principles are being put aside as staff who have COVID-19 themselves are being asked to come to work sick in protective gear to care for patients. The HHS, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and National Guard are all deployed to help with the critical hospital staffing crisis. Funding is available primarily through FEMA Public Assistance (PA), HHS Provider Relief Fund and other programs. Despite all of this, the US’s healthcare system is falling behind.

UnSplash: Mufid Majnun

While the next four to six weeks will be tough, hope is on the way and there is reason to be optimistic about better times ahead in the very near future. Public health experts who have looked at data and trends from recent Omicron outbreaks in South Africa and England show that Omicron cases are likely to peak in the US starting this week in parts of the country through the end of January. By February, we should begin to return to a level of virus in our communities that we can safely live with, meaning our hospitals will not be overwhelmed and cases and deaths per day will decrease.

The tide will not turn on its own; it will take collective effort us to return to the “new normal” way of living with COVID-19 that the world began adjusting to in the fall of 2021. For us to return to this reality – one that we will be living with for many years to come – we must try to be as safe and respectful of our health and the health of others by:

  1. Being thoughtful about your daily interactions with others. The kind of activities you use to do over the summer or fall of 2021 such as gathering with vaccinated family and friends and dining indoors are now likely to expose you to the contagious strain of Omicron. According to the most recent Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Data, 1 out of every 4 people tested each day have COVID-19. This means the likelihood of someone having COVID-19 in an indoor environment with greater than 4 people is high. Choose activities that you must do such as school, work, doctors’ appointments or safe gatherings to balance your mental health and well-being. This is only for a short period of time.
  2. Wearing a high-quality fitted mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to change its guidance by recommending the wearing of N-95 or KN95 masks only. This is because we now have a good supply of these masks and given the contagiousness of the new variants which require well-fitting high filtration masks versus cloth masks. If everyone wore a N95 or KN95 mask in public, it is likely we could end this pandemic and spread of virus quickly.
  3. Getting vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines are extremely protective against hospitalizations and death from COVID-19. 60-75% of all current COVID-19 Omicron variant hospitalizations are in unvaccinated individuals. The remainder are either vaccinated but immunocompromised, have underlying conditions or were admitted for another reason and then test positive for COVID-19.
  4. Testing frequently. Test at the onset of any symptom or prior to getting together with others for a family gathering or event. Testing as close to the event as possible is important as rapid antigen tests are likely to only pick up higher viral loads when you are most contagious.

Moreover, as a nation, we must start now to learn to live with COVID-19 like we do other viruses. We must start to fund programs and initiatives to mitigate the effects of future virus surges and pandemics as well as prevent our hospitals from ever being overwhelmed in the future by:

  1. Prioritizing federal funding for Public Health Preparedness. Hospitals are hemorrhaging money implementing emergency measures to take care of patients. 20 years ago, following the September 11th attacks, the federal government created the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). Funding must be increased and tied to specific standardized preparedness deliverables that will strengthen our public health preparedness for the future.
  2. Creating standby critical care bed and staff capacity in our hospitals. Hospital bed capacity has been shrinking across the country for decades as more and more care shifts to outpatient settings and healthcare organizations look for improved efficiency in the cost of care. We must find ways to have beds and public health doctors and nurses at the ready to scale up in times of crisis. Easier said than done, but this is a challenge that we must get creative about.
  3. Enhance standardized seasonal public health measures and messaging. The US has arguably the greatest healthcare system in the world with leading experts and scientists and doctors. We must find ways develop standardized national public health measures and messaging that are easy for all to understand and subsequently follow. This will be essential for mitigating future virus outbreaks as we balance maintaining a fully functioning society with reasonable public health measures such as hygiene, masking, ventilation, and vaccination guidelines for all.

Jeff Bokser is Hagerty Consulting’s Vice President of Healthcare Programs with strategic expertise in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, crisis management, and recovery. Jeff has over 20 years of experience as a senior leader at NewYork-Presbyterian and Yale New Haven Health. He advanced performance and increased revenue in clinical and nonclinical settings and led innovation in daily operations and care delivery processes. Jeff is nationally recognized in the healthcare sector for his transformational leadership in the areas of emergency and crisis management; security and safety; pandemic and surge planning; and business continuity. Jeff was the system-level executive responsible for Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Management, Business Continuity, Crisis Management, Safety, Security, and Regulatory Compliance for the entire continuum of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital & Healthcare System enterprise. He served as Incident Commander guiding 40,000+ employees through numerous internal and external emergency response and recovery operations including Hurricane Sandy, Ebola, H1N1, and 9/11.

Policy Update: Equity Challenges with FEMA’s New Consensus-Based Codes and Standards Policy

With passage of the 2018 Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), the new consensus-based codes and standards policy has brought substantive change to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) grant program. Our previous blog discusses nuances of this new policy and while it offers an opportunity by allowing the communities to build back to more resiliently, it poses challenges and risk.

About the Policy

According to the consensus-based codes and standards policy, FEMA will fund PA projects to comply with the latest published editions of relevant consensus-based codes, specifications, and standards. The policy requires incorporating a holistic hazard approach to determine minimum acceptable criteria for the design, construction, and maintenance of residential structures and facilities that may be eligible for FEMA PA. Additionally, the project must be designed for the purposes of protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of a facility’s users against disasters.

This new policy amends FEMA’s previous codes and standards criteria which limited funding only to restore a damaged facility per the codes and standards locally adopted at the time of the disaster. However, per this new policy, FEMA now requires applicants to adhere to numerous published codes, specifications, and standards as listed within Appendix A of the new policy. The challenge is, these required codes, standards, and specifications may or may not be locally adopted. Moreover, applicants are now responsible for identifying, analyzing, justifying, and complying with applicable codes when restoring damaged facilities even if they have no experience building to such standards. FEMA’s previous codes and standards policy limited funding to only cover codes, specifications, and standards that were locally adopted and consistently implemented; however, now, FEMA will fund upgrades beyond what is locally adopted, provided they restore damaged facilities to be more resilient to future hazards.

Potential Implementation Challenges in Puerto Rico

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, and it was followed by a major disaster declaration. Since this incident declaration was after August 1, 2017 and before November 6, 2019, eligible applicants in Puerto Rico were eligible to request to opt-in to the interim policy and had to navigate the dilemma of deciding to do so or not. Ultimately, many communities in Puerto Rico declined the opportunity to opt-in to the new policy because the risks seemed to outweigh the rewards. Specifically, the rigor of the code analysis, availability of contractors, and FEMA’s requirement to certify that all restoration adhered to the highest resilience standards meant that failing to comply would jeopardize FEMA funding. As a result, many communities opted out, foregoing potential funding but protecting themselves pitfalls of trying to comply with a new, untested policy.

Sub-applicant’s experience on the island highlighted the risk and reward calculation of choosing to opt-in to a more rigorous policy with additional compliance requirements, administrative burden, and potential risk to PA funding. Factors that led to opt-outs in Puerto Rico are telling – and foreboding – because now, for disasters declared on or after December 20, 2019, FEMA requires recovering communities to comply with this new policy.

The FEMA guidance emphasizes that the burden of code identification and application is on each applicant and sub-applicant. Based on our experience, this will force each individual community to conduct a comprehensive code analysis, along with additional cost for architectural and/ or engineering services required to perform such an analysis. Furthermore, codes and standards are typically regularly updated, and updates are often prompted by the lessons learned during a disaster event. After the devastating hurricanes of the 2017 season impacted Puerto Rico, the building codes were updated to Puerto Rico Codes 2018 to include new wind speed and seismic category maps, and to implement more strict design requirements across the island. While it is positive that local codes were updated, it does further complicate compliance with FEMA’s new policy going forward.

While the process begins with code analysis, another risk is the availability of trained contractors and compliance certifications. Due to large variances in codes, finalizing the performance specification for a project will prove to be a challenge for communities across the nation. The guidance also specifies that when a code or specification offers discretion in design, FEMA will fund the least expensive option and it is up to the applicant to show how a more expensive alternative would provide greater hazard risk reduction. This uncertainty and lack of clarity in guidance poses further risks as a community looks at the life cycle of the project and potential pitfalls that could result in challenges with cost eligibility.

New Codes and Standards Policy and Equity

When FEMA funds more rigorous codes and standards than what is locally adopted, it makes damaged facilities more resilient to future events; however, going forward, implementation challenges will not be unique to Puerto Rico. For underserved communities, which may lack the resources or experience analyzing complex FEMA policy, this can create inequitable outcomes – something FEMA recently sought to address. While we believe that this policy can improve community resilience, it poses enormous implementation and equity issues and may result in otherwise eligible communities being unable to obtain funding or begin the grant process.

Greater technical assistance opportunities, provided by FEMA, could reduce these burdens, and result in more equitable program implementation. For example, instead of putting the onus of analyzing, identifying, implementing, complying with applicable codes on local communities, FEMA could provide technical assistance and be jointly responsible. This would support underserved communities and incentivize FEMA to support – rather than only enforce – compliance.

The Way Forward

While this new policy offers a unique opportunity to bolster community’s resilience to standards previously not funded by FEMA, it does pose significant challenges. Based on our experience, despite the need to build back more resiliently, many applicants have preferred not to opt-in; however, now applicants recovering from disasters declared on or after December 20, 2019, have no choice – they must comply. This will certainly make FEMA PA program compliance more challenging especially for communities with scarce resources and little disaster experience.

Fortunately, the work associated with code identification, implementation and compliance are eligible costs under the FEMA PA program. Therefore, while there are challenges, we believe this expansion of FEMA policy can work to achieve the stated goals of promoting resiliency and risk reduction; protecting lives and property; and supporting the efficient use of federal dollars, if recovering communities are supported by FEMA through technical assistance.

Hagerty Can Help

The disaster recovery process can be complicated, but it is eased with excellent advice and assistance. Hagerty professionals understand and know the rules, and we have years of experience advocating for and negotiating on behalf of our clients. The results of our work — the billions of dollars we have helped secure for our clients — is proof of our success and expertise in working with government programs. Contact us to discuss how we can help you meet your preparedness, response, and recovery needs.

Savita Goel serves as Hagerty’s Deputy Director of Infrastructure Resilience. Savita is an experienced engineer with more than two decades of experience in management, business administration, and recovery-related projects. She is also adept at assisting firms to assess risk. Savita’s storied engineering background gives her the ability to head teams including management and hands-on engineers, often with projects that deal in millions of dollars of federal grant management and budgeting. Savita is also experienced in assessing risks posed to large urban areas from terrorist threats.

Ari Renoni is Hagerty’s Deputy Director of Recovery and has 12 years of experience working with government and international public organizations. He has a deep familiarity with federal policy, given his experience supporting FEMA projects for clients in New York, California, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida.

Sage Hart is a Managing Associate in Hagerty’s Recovery Division, supporting various natural disaster recovery and COVID-19 response projects in New York, Puerto Rico, California, and other areas of the country. His experience and expertise include program management, policy analysis, finance, and data analytics. Sage holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s in finance from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

Policy Update: FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program – Consensus-Based Codes

With passage of the 2018 Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), FEMA will now pay to restore damaged facilities and make them more resilient beyond locally adopted codes and standards. While this new opportunity allows communities to build back better and protect themselves against future hazards, it also poses risks. State, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and private nonprofits (PNPs) can access new funding – but to do so is a complex process and proper compliance is required. During this hurricane and wildfire season, SLTTs and PNPs should familiarize themselves with these new requirements to take full advantage of this federal funding.

What changed?

On November 6, 2019, FEMA issued an interim policy titled Consensus-Based Codes, Specifications and Standards for Public Assistance (Policy). This Policy requires FEMA to fund PA projects in conformity with the latest published editions of relevant consensus-based codes, specifications, and standards – incorporating the latest hazard-resistant design and establishing minimum acceptable criteria for the design, construction, and maintenance of residential structures and facilities that may be eligible for this assistance. Additionally, the project must be designed for the purposes of protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of a facility’s users against disasters. FEMA amended their previous codes and standards criteria and is now requiring applicants to adhere to numerous published codes, specifications, and standards which are listed within the policy document as Appendix A. FEMA’s previous codes and standards policy limited funding to only cover codes, specifications, and standards that were locally adopted and consistently implemented; however, now, FEMA will fund upgrades beyond what is locally adopted, provided they restore damaged facilities to be more resilient to future hazards.

On March 29, 2021, to support its new 2019 policy, FEMA released the new FEMA Policy and Building Code Decision Tree: Navigating Building Damage within the Public Assistance Grant Program to guide FEMA staff, FEMA PA grant applicants or their representatives, hazard mitigation officers, and others through the process of making determinations and decisions related to substantial structural damage and substantial damage.

FEMA Policy and Building Code Decision Tree: Source

This new Policy is applicable to applicants for disasters that occurred after November 6th, 2019, or applicants who “opt-in” for disasters that occurred prior to that date. The key aspects of the new FEMA Policy relevant to an applicant are:

  1. Not Optional – Compliance with the new codes, specifications, and standards will not be optional for an applicant for future disaster permanent work projects funded by FEMA Public Assistance. Non-compliance with the applicable code, specifications, and standards will result in denial of project eligibility or funding deobligation by FEMA unless the applicant is able to successfully argue to FEMA that the code, specification, or standard is “technically infeasible,” creates an “extraordinary burden” on the City, or is “inappropriate” to the facility “such as adversely affecting a facility that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
  2. Specific to Certain Types of Facilities – The Policy is specific only to buildings, electric power, roads, bridges, potable water, and wastewater facilities. Therefore, shoreline protection, parks, hardscapes, etc. will not be affected by this policy and will be subject to the previous FEMA policy in which codes and standards are eligible to be funded by FEMA, i.e., codes and standards formally adopted prior to the disaster by the applicant and practiced without exception.
  3. Proof of Compliance – Upon completion of all projects, proof of compliance – with all applicable codes, specifications, and standards – must be provided by the applicant to FEMA. FEMA will accept written certifications by registered engineers, design professionals or other qualified individuals as proof of compliance. A likely standard practice would be for the designer of record (engineer or architect) or Department of Buildings (DOB) plan examiner to create these certifications. The designers of record are already responsible for normal applicable code compliances, so the certification would be consistent with their normal duties although this creates abnormal additional requirements for the designers of record and additional fees might be required.
  4. Direct Relationship to Disaster Damages – The Policy limits which codes, specification, and standards requirements are eligible for FEMA reimbursement. The Policy language describes that there must be a “direct relationship between the upgrade work and eligible damage.” This language is vague but can be interpreted as only codes, specifications, and standards of a disaster damaged building system will be reimbursed by FEMA. It should also be noted that this limitation in funding could create an unfunded mandate scenario for FEMA PA applicants. Since the Policy’s proof of compliance requirement does not distinguish between those codes, specifications, and standards related to disaster damages (funded) and those that are not related to disaster damages (not funded), it can be assumed that the proof of compliance could still be required, thereby requiring that certain non-FEMA funded codes, standards and specifications are being met at the SLTT level.

Way Forward

With hurricane season upon us, SLTTs and PNPs will benefit from preparing for the additional complexity this new FEMA Policy creates. Hagerty recommends taking the following steps before disaster strikes:

  • Code Comparison – Perform a comparative analysis of the FEMA required codes, specification, and standards to the current, locally adopted applicable building code and create a document that details significant, new requirements. Since the consensus-based codes as well as adopted codes by SLTTs are regularly updated, this code comparison review will also need to be revisited regularly.
  • Code Compliance Certification Process – Develop a code, specification, and standard certification process to follow for all future PA-funded disaster recovery projects that identifies applicable consensus-based codes, specifications, and standards. This process should detail which party creates the certification, how and in which phase of the project it is created. Additionally, this process can also include standard forms, design contract language to include the additional certification scope of work, procurement instructions, etc.

Hagerty Can Help

The disaster recovery process can be complicated but it is eased with excellent advice and assistance. Hagerty professionals understand and know the rules, and we have years of experience advocating for and negotiating on behalf of our clients. The results of our work — the billions of dollars we have helped secure for our clients — is proof of our success and expertise in working with government programs. Contact us to discuss how we can help you meet your preparedness, response, and recovery needs.

Savita Goel serves as Hagerty’s Deputy Director of Infrastructure Resilience. Savita is an experienced engineer with more than two decades of experience in management, business administration, and recovery-related projects. She is also adept at assisting firms to assess risk. Savita’s storied engineering background gives her the ability to head teams including management and hands-on engineers, often with projects that deal in millions of dollars of federal grant management and budgeting. Savita is also experienced in assessing risks posed to large urban areas from terrorist threats.

Ari Renoni is Hagerty’s Deputy Director of Recovery and has 12 years of experience working with government and international public organizations. He has a deep familiarity with federal policy, given his experience supporting FEMA projects for clients in New York, California, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida.

The Hagerty Advantage: Our People – John Hageman, Senior Manager

Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.

After serving as Chief of Staff for the City of Detroit’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer and helping Detroit recover post-bankruptcy, I became more convinced that times of crisis can create unique opportunities for the government to reform itself and improve outcomes for its constituents. Hagerty Consulting’s work enables me to help all levels of government and communities not only when they are most in need, but also when the opportunities are greatest.

What do you find most rewarding about public service?

At its core, public service focuses on improving people’s lives and helping solve some of our largest challenges. Being able to help governments organize and operate better, and then seeing how that helps people in their daily lives, is what I find most rewarding about public service.

Given your experience with financial and change management, what fiscal issues should local governments and communities be paying close attention to as they continue to recover from COVID-19?

In my experience, the most impactful fiscal and economic recoveries are strategic and comprehensive. They re-imagine how services, programs, and investments are delivered in the short- and long-term.

Here are a few considerations that local governments should think about:

  • Evaluate each funding source and determine the best approach to leverage available funds and maximize their impact. Consider centralizing grants management, as Detroit did, to establish a government-wide approach and help drive recovery.
  • Identify eligible Federal fund recipients, including American Rescue Plan recipients, in your community and collaborate to the extent possible. This will help create a community-wide approach, speed up recovery, and may create cost-savings.
  • Prioritize using one-time, Federal funding for one-time expenditures. Doing otherwise may create a structurally imbalanced budget. Plan for any ongoing expenses created by one-time expenditures and conduct long-term financial planning to understand how decisions today may impact the community in the future.


What are you passionate about outside of work?

I enjoy reading, spending time outside, and traveling. I also enjoy wine and learning about wine’s impact on a place’s culture and identity.

What author do you admire most and why?

A specific author is tough, but I enjoy memoirs and other non-fiction. I am currently reading “The Overstory” by Richard Powers.

John Hageman is a Senior Manager in Hagerty’s Recovery Division. Prior to joining Hagerty, John was Chief of Staff for the City of Detroit’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, helping Detroit recover post-bankruptcy. He also has a background in management consulting with a focus in strategic project management, public sector finance and administration, and restructuring all of which he employed working with the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (FOMB) as well as during his tenure with the City of Detroit. 

One Year Later: How a Global Pandemic Has Changed Our Lives and What Comes Next


One year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. At that time, worldwide, over 4,600 people were confirmed dead as a result of COVID-19 and approximately 125,000 people were confirmed to be infected with the virus. In the organization’s message, the WHO proclaimed COVID-19 was a global pandemic and encouraged aggressive action from all nations to combat the virus. The world went into lockdown, with countries closing off borders, flights being grounded, and major cities enforcing stay-at-home orders. 

To date, there have been over 118.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, with the global death toll reaching approximately 2.6 million this week. This coming Saturday, March 13, 2021, marks the one-year anniversary since the United States (US) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a national emergency, two days after the WHO pandemic declaration.


Essential workers in fields ranging from trash collection, food services, transportation, and medicine have been working on the front lines since before the pandemic declaration. Dr. Angela Chen, an ER physician at The Mount Sinai Hospital and the first doctor to diagnose New York City’s first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 1, 2020, spoke with NPR on the COVID-19 wave that decimated the City. Frontline healthcare workers initially struggled to create wards dedicated for COVID-19 patients to control the spread of a then-unknown disease. “The amount of tragedy and death that we saw — nothing in my training prepared me for it,” Chen said.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially tweeted that COVID-19 is a global pandemic:

Government agencies were among the first to shut down at the onset of the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, The Associated Press (AP) reported Congress closed the US Capitol, House, and Senate office buildings to the public, with an initial reopening date of April 1, 2020. California was one of the first states to enact stay-at-home orders, with The New York Times reporting that Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties issued a three-week shelter-at-home order on March 16, 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom called for the closure of restaurants and bars, and banned visits to hospitals and nursing homes unless in the case of severe circumstances, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to close on March 20, 2020.

The US economy struggled, and still continues to struggle, under the burden of unemployment and recession. According to the International Monetary Fund, US residents out of work reached an annual rate of 8.9 percent. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated COVID-19 resulted in a 60 percent decline in international tourism in 2020, with a potential to decline up to 80 percent when all of the data for 2020 were aggregated.

Veronica Benavides: Unsplash

NBC’s WKYC-3 in Cleveland, Ohio, provided a timeline of how sports and world events were canceled, starting on March 11, 2020, when a game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed halfway through the game after Jazz Center Rudy Gobert was revealed to have tested positive for the virus. The following day, the NHL announced a delay to the season, while college conferences throughout the US canceled NCAA basketball tournaments. By March 24, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) postponed the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan until July 23, 2021. Wimbledon had been scheduled for June 29 to July 12, 2020, but tournament organizers declared the event canceled for the duration of 2020 – the first cancelation for the event since World War II, according to The New York Times. While countries and states were placed in lockdown, there were still those who needed to continue their work, risking their health and safety in service to others. 

Today, the number of Americans who know someone deceased from COVID-19 is increasing. According to the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, 34 percent, or roughly one-in-three Americans, knows someone who has died as a result of the virus. The past year has created unprecedented challenges for every industry, across every avenue of the US’ society, yet the medical community’s global efforts have helped to limit the spread of the virus and provide respite for long-term recovery.


Shortly after the 2021 new year, vaccination efforts increased across the US. As of today, approximately 18.8 percent of the US population has received their first dose of the vaccine, and 9.8 percent have gotten their second dose. According to the CDC, the three pharmaceutical companies with emergency use authorization (EUA) to produce the vaccine include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Even more companies and vaccinations, such as AstraZeneca and Novavax, are going through late-stage trials to be approved for distribution. Daily infection rates in the US have been steadily trending downwards since mid-January of this year. 

Many individuals have started to look towards a brighter future, which may not be as far off as it seemed just last year. Today, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package into law, which will provide relief for thousands of Americans including much needed federal funding for schools and higher educational institutions; small businesses; tribal, state, and local governments; and more. 

The one-year anniversary of an unprecedented global event is a memorial to the lives that have been lost, tested, and derailed. The sacrifices and work by so many people on the front lines and behind the scenes is a testament to our nation’s strength. As we move forward, may we take the lessons learned to prepare and protect the world from ever experiencing a pandemic on this level again.

Joely Bertram is an Associate in the Preparedness Division working out of Hagerty’s office in Washington, D.C. 

Molly Harris  is an Associate at Hagerty who works within the Communication and Operations Teams.

Ruth Anne Holiday is a Managing Associate at Hagerty, supporting both the Preparedness and Recovery Divisions.

Sarah Herchenbach is a Marketing Associate at Hagerty and leads the Situational Status Blog Team.

Risks and Rewards: Examining the Benefits and Challenges Associated with the American Rescue Plan and How State and Local Governments Can Address Them

The Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) reignited the debate on how federal funding should be put to work to help our nation’s continued response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic –  minimum wage, direct payments to citizens, and other issues continue to be discussed. Earlier this afternoon, the House passed the Senate-approved version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), sending the legislation to President Biden’s desk for signature which he is expected to do this Friday, March 12. If enacted, the ARPA will become one of the largest stimulus packages in US history.

During recent congressional debates, a critical sticking point was providing another round of relief funding directly to state and local governments. Under the ARPA, $350 billion will be made available to state and local government across the country to address unmet needs driven by the economic impacts of COVID-19.  Many have analyzed the data which paints varying pictures of the current economic situation at the state and local level:

  • A recent JP Morgan Report found that there was an average decline of 0.12 percent in state revenue in calendar year 2020, while 21 states saw positive revenue growth compared with 2019.
  • Additionally, based on finance data from the US Census Bureau and recent unemployment projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the National League of Cities estimates —that cities will lose up to 21.6 percent of their revenue this year – representing up to $134 billion in losses this year alone and approximately $360 billion in losses over the next three years.
  • Conversely, The Tax Policy Center forecast for state personal income tax revenue collections calls for 3.3 percent growth for fiscal year 2021, which is larger than the 2.4 percent projected growth estimated for fiscal year 2020. At the same time, median state-level forecasts for corporate income tax revenue collections showing less than 0.1 percent growth for fiscal year 2021.

While the depth and magnitude of the pandemic’s economic impact can be debated, state and local governments continue to balance budgets while facing continued economic recovery challenges because of COVID-19. Moreover, it can be argued that some of the longer-term impacts from the pandemic have yet to be determined.  Thus, while the calls for data driven funding are warranted, a collective effort to support the economy as the pandemic continues seems necessary.

Administering ARPA Funds: Turning Current Risks into Long-term Rewards

Many jurisdictions remain focused on pandemic response efforts including testing, contact tracing, vaccination administration, healthcare, etc.  Additionally, many are also navigating the changing and complex cost recovery operations associated with previously available funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), and more. While the ARPA creates additional opportunities for state and local governments, the management and compliance requirements associated with it will also place additional burden on recipients of its funding.

At Hagerty, our experience has shown that there are both short- and long-term strategies necessary for the strategic use of ARPA funds. Some state and local governments are familiar with the fact that federal disaster programs are often reimbursable in nature – the state and local government expending their resources on the front-end to be reimbursed for eligible expenses after the fact. However, ARPA funding will be different in that it is a very large and flexible pot of money headed directly into the hands of governments nationwide.  Therefore, to effectively administer this aid and help communities recover, state and local governments must have a strategic plan to expend these funds.

As governments consider their plans, we offer the following framework to address the unmet needs driven by the pandemic:

Throughout the pandemic, Hagerty has supported state and local governments in their response to and recovery from COVID-19. Based on this experience, we offer some deliberate solutions communities can implement with this additional federal funding.

Provide Equitable Access to the Digital World. If COVID-19 has taught us one thing, digital connectivity via the Internet is more important than ever. Careers, healthcare, education, and more all went virtual. This was all based on the assumption that internet connectivity exists for all; yet, unfortunately, that assumption is wrong.  Populations all over the US cannot get regular access to the internet because it is either unaffordable or unavailable. Therefore, it is important to think of connectivity options to enable reliable internet access.

Foster Workforce Development. Helping our clients nationwide, we have certainly noticed the disparity in how the pandemic has impacted governments. For example, below we compare the economic diversification of some geographically similar states in comparison with GDP and projected revenue loss.

While each of these state’s possess diverse economies, we observe the states with a higher percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the manufacturing space faring better throughout the pandemic. While surprising, given the in-person nature of the manufacturing industry, the resilience of that space has helped NC, OR and PA to either limiting loss or in two cases achieve growth in COVID-19.  Thus, each state and local government should consider a similar analysis to determine the pandemic’s impact on their economy as well as how equitable development can occur through workforce training.   Dedicated training to grow the workforce in resilient industries while fostering economic expansion will be critical for governments to withstand the impacts of a future pandemic event.

Provide Affordable Housing. Time and time again, we see housing being a critical component of any recovery following a disaster and this is no different. Last spring, we observed many governments quickly pivoting to address housing issues exacerbated by the pandemic. Many of these programs were established in support of disadvantaged, vulnerable populations, such as retrofitting homeless shelters for social distancing which caused space constraints across the country requiring new solutions as well as rental assistance programs to enable renters and landlords to sustain while they navigated the pandemic. Simultaneously, the rental market has seen mixed results and while there has been a surge in housing prices, home ownership will continue to be challenging going forward. To reach full recovery, state and local governments must be diligent to provide housing opportunities for all populations within their communities.

Develop an Incubator Mentality. In November 2020, Lake Research Partners conducted a study for Small Business Majority polling 500 US small, minority business owners (with oversamples of Black, Latino and Asian American/Pacific Islander) on how they navigated the first round of federal relief funding associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to this study, 18% of Black or Latinx businesses surveyed plan to close over the next 3 months. Thus, while February 2021 unemployment data is showing improvement, the cascading impact of COVID may still be working through the employment market.

To account for this attrition and support local entrepreneurs, small business incubators should be considered. Incubators are designed to help startup and small businesses grow and succeed by providing free or low-cost workspace, mentorship, expertise, access to investors, and in some cases, working capital in the form of a loan. According to a 2010 Senate Hearing, in 2005 alone, small business incubators assisted 27,000 start-up companies that provided full-time employment for over 100,000 Americans and generated $17 billion in revenue.  To develop a sustainable long-term tax base, a thriving economy, and address future impacts in the labor market, small business incubators could be vital resources for more than 30 million businesses across the country.

Next Steps

Expending this additional federal funding will be no easy task for state and Local governments. Putting the $350 billion into context, it represents 101 times the FY 2021 Housing and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funding level of $3.45 billion and with a three-year window to expend allocated funds.  Jurisdictions need to think carefully about how to expend these funds with a data-driven approach being paramount to maximize the funding’s impact. Moreover, as new federal programs and policy changes continue to be announced almost daily, there are many factors and priorities to consider; however, planning for and organizing your cost recovery now will lead to more resilient outcomes for your community and its residents in the future.

Matt Hochstein is Hagerty’s Vice President of Client Services. He has nearly two decades of management consulting experience working with diverse clients across the emergency management, financial services, healthcare, and technology sectors.

Policy Update: 100% Federal Cost Share for Eligible FEMA Public Assistance Funding Associated with COVID-19

The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to constantly evolving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) policies and procedures. Typically, under a major disaster declaration, the federal cost share is 75 percent whereas the state responsibility is 25 percent. Given the fiscal constraints at the state and local level associated with the ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery, on January 21, 2021 President Biden signed an initial Executive Order (EO) increasing the FEMA PA federal cost share – for certain COVID-19 eligible costs – to 100 percent through September 30, 2021. Subsequently, on February 2, 2021, President Biden issued another EO directing retroactive FEMA PA reimbursements and expanding eligibility for certain COVID-19 eligible costs. Since then, states, cities, tribes, territories, private non-profits, and emergency managers have been anxiously awaiting how this directive would be interpreted and relayed by FEMA.

Yesterday, in accordance with the President’s directives, FEMA (via memo to their Regional Administrators) announced that the Agency would be retroactively reimbursing applicants fully for eligible emergency protective measures such as certain personal protective equipment (e.g., masks and gloves), emergency feeding, sheltering at-risk populations, and mobilization of the National Guard. These retroactive reimbursements will be backdated to the beginning of the pandemic’s ongoing major disaster incident period, which officially began on January 20, 2020. FEMA PA projects that were previously awarded at the 75 percent federal cost share will automatically be adjusted by FEMA, whereas those not yet awarded will be processed with 100 percent federal funding.

The President has also directed FEMA to expand the activities eligible for PA reimbursement beginning January 21, 2021 until September 30, 2021. This expanded eligibility applies to the opening and operation of eligible schools, childcare facilities, healthcare facilities, non-congregate shelters, domestic violence shelters, transit system and potentially other eligible applicants. While the 100 percent cost share adjustment was previously implemented for vaccine administration, it remains to be seen how FEMA will address these newly eligible activities.

Nevertheless, this cost share shift and additional FEMA guidance is promising news for applicants attempting to use funds strategically during the pandemic. Many recipients and sub-recipients of Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) now have increased flexibility to use funds previously devoted to meeting the FEMA state/ local cost share for other purposes to address the ongoing public health emergency.


In addition to being knowledgeable about changing federal grant programs and policies, there are tangible steps you can take now to set up for a more successful cost recovery in the future. As with many recovery efforts, tracking all costs and procedures related to COVID-19 response and recovery is critical and, more specifically, we recommend the following:

  • Track all COVID-19 related costs. Establish dedicated codes in your financial management or reporting systems to distinctly track different COVID-19 related costs. Additionally, record and save all documentation, invoices, proofs of payments, procurement methodologies, etc.
  • Initiate the FEMA PA process. If you are an eligible applicant and have not yet pursued FEMA PA funding in response to COVID-19, submit your “Request for Public Assistance” (RPA). There is no required commitment to submit a grant or funding request.
  • Identify and activate subject matter expertise as well as staff augmentation. As illustrated above, federal recovery programs are complex and constantly changing; meanwhile, you (and your existing staff) already have a full-time job responding to the ongoing event(s). Moreover, many federal programs provide funding for costs related to management and administration of grants.

As new federal programs and policy changes continue to be announced almost daily, there are many factors and priorities to consider; however, planning for and organizing your cost recovery now will help prevent the need to untangle information after the fact, increase your chances of federal reimbursement, and prepare you for any future audits you may face.


Our professionals have supported state and local governments and over 100 hospitals and healthcare systems nationwide in their response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past several months, our professionals have assisted our clients as they address immediate treatment needs and medical surge requirements; implement important community and facility mitigation measures; and establish vaccine distribution, management, and administration plans. We are also ensuring our clients have access to immediate resources to facilitate the ongoing response, short-term financial recovery, as well as long-term cost-recovery to ensure future readiness. Contact us to discuss how we can help you meet your preparedness, response, and recovery needs.

Hagerty Consulting (Hagerty) is an emergency management consulting firm that helps clients prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. For over twenty years, we have supported our clients in their preparations for, response to, and recovery from some of the nation’s largest disaster response and recovery missions including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Michael, the Camp Fire, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, amongst others.

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Jeff Bokser

Over the past year, Hagerty has helped more than 25 state and local governments, as well as over 100 hospitals and healthcare systems respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the past month, we have highlighted several Hagerty team members who are helping our clients navigate the complexities of the continuing public health crisis by sharing how they have addressed unique response challenges, maximized federal reimbursement opportunities, and tackled recovery challenges your community may be facing. Today, we hear from Hagerty’s Vice President of Healthcare and University Programs Jeff Bokser.

How did your career path lead you to Hagerty?

Jeff: Prior to joining Hagerty Consulting, I spent my career working in academic medical centers both in New York and Connecticut where I gained experience in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, crisis management and recovery. I started my career in a New York City hospital in healthcare administration three months prior to September 11th, 2001. I was quickly placed in the hospital command center and helped the hospital respond to the events and the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. I have since led hospital staff in planning, executing, and responding to significant emergency events including Ebola, Hurricane Sandy, H1N1 Pandemic, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), anthrax scares, mass-casualty surge incidents, and deploying disaster response teams and telemedicine nationally. This has prepared me for public health emergencies and the response and recovery Hagerty is providing during COVID-19. 

How have you been supporting clients in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Jeff: Hagerty is currently working with over 100 hospitals, public health departments across the country address the significant financial challenges from the effects of COVID-19 testing, treatment, care and vaccination roll-out. Our work includes Identifying and preparing organizations to optimize federal emergency funding such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA), Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), Provider Relief Funds and other programs to offset revenue loss and assist with cost recovery from COVID. In addition, we are helping hospitals and public health departments staff emergency operations centers both virtually and in-person, running contact tracing and call centers, providing solutions for field hospitals, enhancing continuity of operations plans for pandemics and supporting the planning and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. Hagerty is unique – we have vast experience in disaster response and recovery, and we are bringing them both to the table for our clients during COVID-19.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and/ or addressed while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Jeff: Normally there is a time when an emergency ends and recovery begins; right now, they are blending. In addition, there was no national playbook for a long-term public health emergency like COVID-19. We are creating in real time, solutions to help our clients manage and scale financial recovery and response solutions including just in time COVID-19 vaccination points of distribution and programs.  

What lesson(s) have you learned – professionally and personally – supporting our clients’ response to the pandemic?

Jeff: I am inspired to work with a truly dedicated team at Hagerty Consulting that looks every day to make a difference in the lives of others. In addition, having the opportunity to work with healthcare organizations across the country, I am amazed by the heroic efforts and innovative solutions that healthcare workers have developed to meet the unique patient needs of the populations in all corners of our nation. 

What long-term impacts do you believe the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the Healthcare and Public Health Industry’s?

Jeff: COVID-19 has forever changed the future of healthcare and public health emergency preparedness. The public health emergency will not just be about the immediate aspects of caring for COVID-19 patients and mass vaccination. It will require healthcare organizations to develop new and more resilient models of care delivery to not only prepare for future pandemics but the long term issues resulting from the pandemic including: Inequality in treatment exposed during COVID; A backlog of elective procedures that were put off to create capacity for COVID-19 patients; More complex healthcare needs from individuals who put off preventative care and mental health needs resulting from job loss, social isolation and staff burnout of caregivers. Most importantly it will require a restoration of trust in science and health and a prioritization and investment of funding at all levels of government and private entities in public health and healthcare.   

Jeff Bokser is Hagerty Consulting’s Vice President of Healthcare and University Programs with strategic expertise in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, crisis management, and recovery. Jeff currently works with healthcare systems, public health departments and universities across the country focused on COVID-19 financial recovery, preparedness and response. Jeff has over 20 years of experience as a senior leader at NewYork-Presbyterian and Yale New Haven Health. Jeff is nationally recognized in the healthcare sector for his transformational leadership in the areas of emergency and crisis management; security and safety; pandemic and surge planning; and business continuity.