Public Health preparedness continues to be a high priority for the Department of Public Health, stated DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, MD, MPH. As we have seen with the anthrax attacks, SARS, Hurricane Ivan, and other crises, the threat of a man-made or naturally occurring public health emergency is very real. Working with our partners, we have made significant progress in strengthening our capacity to respond to these types of events and are continually working to improve our level of preparedness, stated Galvin.
Earlier in the year, DPHs application to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for hospital preparedness was also approved. DPH received $6,197,207 from HRSA which will complement its overall preparedness efforts.
Since 2001, DPH has successfully applied for over $50 million in federal funding to support public health preparedness activities. A number of accomplishments, which have strengthened Connecticuts public health system, have been realized during that time, including the following:
Developed enhanced capabilities for detection of possible terrorist events and specific terrorist-related disease surveillance. Special hospital admission surveillance, rash illness surveillance and human anthrax early detection and rapid reporting systems are in place. Additional teams of field epidemiologists and sanitarians have been hired using bioterrorism funding and trained to investigate outbreaks.
Enhanced DPHs bioterrorist response laboratory capabilities by becoming a fully compliant biosafety level III laboratory, allowing the Public Health Laboratory to accept and work on weapons of mass destruction agents. The Public Health laboratorys bioterrorism (BT) action team is available to process suspicious samples 24 hours a day/ seven days a week.
Established an Advisory Committee on public health preparedness planning that includes more than 50 partners that represent Connecticuts emergency response community including the states Tribal Nations, private sector, Military Department, EMS, Department of Public Safety, Department of Public Health, and clinical medicine.
Received $8.5 million in bonding for purchasing and equipping a modular-based portable 100-bed hospital which could support disaster response and provide surge capacity in any location of the state during a mass casualty event, as well as providing isolation care for any type of infectious disease.
Established an Office of Public Health Preparedness within the DPH to provide leadership, direction and coordination of all activities to ensure readiness and interagency collaboration for effective public health interventions during bioterrorism events, disease outbreaks, and other natural and man-made emergencies.
Developed a comprehensive plan for smallpox response preparedness. DPH launched the first state smallpox vaccination program in the country on Jan. 24, 2003 and became a national model for establishing coalitions of community and healthcare organizations.
Created two hospital-based Centers of Excellence in Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response with a location in the northern tier of the state at the Hartford Hospital and in the southern tier of the state at the Yale-New Haven Health System for public health emergency and bioterrorism response. The Centers of Excellence are taking a leadership role in regional coordination, training, education and clinical care.
Put in place the Health Alert Network (HAN), which enhances electronic data exchange
capability. DPH has secured a composite of communication mechanisms which includes
broadcast fax, blast email, bulletin board via the local health restricted website, wide area
notification system (WAN) and satellite technology that provides 24/7 redundant
communication between DPH and its partners.
Initiated emergency response planning at the local and regional levels through an existing infrastructure of local health districts, smallpox mass vaccination regional teams, regional planning organizations, regional EMS and public safety councils, Centers of Excellence and hospital service area committees.
Developed surge capacity for handling public information inquiries in the event of a crisis
Coordinated plans among all 32 hospitals in the state for securing bed surge capacity for burns and trauma; guarantee isolation rooms and decontamination systems; deployment and credentialing of additional healthcare personnel; ensuring availability of personal protection equipment, and build up hospital based pharmaceutical caches.
Developed a comprehensive and Web-based training program to develop the public health workforce.
Established the states first Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), which is made up of healthcare professionals and support staff. The DMAT, federally recognized by the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and Department of Homeland Security, provides Connecticut with the capacity to deploy to in-state and out-of-state disaster sites with sufficient supplies and equipment to last 72 hours. DPH will use funding under this years Cooperative Agreement to expand and enhance its current preparedness efforts.
Source: Connecticut Department of Public Health