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CDC: Louisiana Ready for Public Health Emergencies

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 6:55am

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein announced today that the state received top marks in preparing to prevent, respond and recover in a public health emergency according to an annual report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, Public Health Preparedness: Strengthening the Nation’s Emergency Response State by State, evaluated each state’s health department on a broad range of preparedness and response activities and rated Louisiana’s preparedness levels high across the board with the state scoring perfect marks on several measures.

“Louisianians have experienced more than their fair share of emergency events, particularly in recent years. From being on the front lines of the worldwide H1N1 pandemic to hurricanes and the recent BP disaster, we have learned how critical it is that we are prepared for any kind of crisis that threatens the public’s health,” Secretary Greenstein said. “Our public health staff is dedicated to this mission, but we know that being prepared isn’t just government’s role. This is a good time for all Louisiana residents to make sure they are personally prepared. Whether that’s getting a flu shot or having a game plan in case of a hurricane, being prepared is everyone’s responsibility.”

Accomplishments highlighted in the report for Louisiana include:

Louisiana has a laboratory that is capable of testing for specific biological agents. The state’s lab passed both of the CDC’s proficiency tests used to evaluate their abilities to receive, test and report on one or more suspected biological agents. This lab also met the CDC’s time requirements for submitting results to the PulseNet database 100 percent of the time.

Louisiana has a laboratory with the ability to respond should the public be exposed to chemical agents. The laboratories successfully demonstrated proficiency in four out of six core methods for rapidly detecting and measuring certain chemical agents that can cause severe health effects.

The state has a 24/7 reporting capacity system that could receive urgent disease reports at any time; Louisiana responded to Health Alert Network’s (HAN) test message within the allotted time each time it was tested.

· On its ability to stage, distribute, and dispense medical assets received from CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile or other sources, Louisiana received a perfect score of 100%, improving 6 percentage points from the 2007-2008 evaluation.

· To improve its readiness to respond, Louisiana activated its public health emergency operations center (EOC) as part of an exercise or drill five times, and staff reported to the EOC within the target time of 2.5 hours every time.

“I have witnessed Louisiana’s residents demonstrate incredible strength and resiliency, so it was no surprise when I learned we had earned exemplary marks on the CDC’s public health preparedness report,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana State Health Officer. “We won’t stop here; Louisiana is fortunate to have a hardworking staff that is committed to serving Louisiana and its residents, and we will continue to strive for outstanding results in the future.”

The report and state specific information on Louisiana is available on CDC’s Web site at http://emergency.cdc.gov/publications/2010phprep.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH’s blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Facebook.

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