Public-Private Partnership Creates Statewide Bioterrorism Surveillance System

RALEIGH, N.C. --  The North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH) and the North Carolina Hospital Association (NCHA) today announced a new partnership between the two organizations that will significantly improve the states ability to recognize and respond to acts of bioterrorism, disease outbreaks, emerging infections and other public health emergencies. The North Carolina Hospital Emergency Surveillance System (NCHESS) will electronically collect, report, monitor, and investigate emergency department (ED) and hospital clinical data in near real-time from all participating hospitals in North Carolina.


NCHESS builds upon existing hospital information systems and the current process by which North Carolina hospitals report inpatient and ambulatory surgery administrative data to the state by adding the capacity for NCDPH to monitor, collect and report selected clinical and administrative ED and hospital-based data. The system is expected to be operational by Jan.1, 2005. The new system will allow public health officials to detect events and trends that indicate disease outbreaks or acts of bioterrorism. The ability to gather the ED data was approved by the North Carolina General Assembly as part of the states efforts to combat potential bioterrorism.


With NCHESS, we will be able to detect any unusual pattern of certain types of illnesses or conditions from people seeking care in North Carolina emergency departments, said State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin. If an unusual trend surfaces, then we can look at that situation more closely and react quickly. This will allow us to do a better job of protecting the public in the event of a major disease outbreak or a bioterrorism incident. This electronic system will literally save lives.


We are excited about this critical new capacity to protect the citizens of North Carolina, said Bill Pully, president of NCHA. We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership between hospitals and public health that will assure its success.



Source: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services