October 15, 2002
In this issue:
On October 4, the Minnesota Department of Health, (MDH) sent out a draft of the MDH Smallpox Response Plan to the MDH Smallpox Review Team. The review team members consist of nine representatives from local public health agencies. The team will meet on October 17, via conference call to discuss the contents of the draft plan. Comments and recommendations from the review team will be forwarded onto the MDH Smallpox Steering Team.
The National Pharmaceutical Stockpile Program (NPS) is a primary response tool in a bioterrorism event or public health emergency. Thus, it is essential that local, state, and federal emergency responders understand the elements of the NPS Program.
The MDH is also developing guidance on the role of public health in the mental health response to a public health emergency or bioterrorism event. The MDH has convened a Mental Health Subgroup to the Commissioner’s Terrorism and Health Task Force. The subgroup is led by Candy Kragthorpe, Mental Health Coordinator for the MDH. The first meeting of the subgroup took place on October 4. The agenda of the meeting covered the purpose, objectives, and future work product that the subgroup intends to address in the next few months. The subgroup is open to any individuals interested in mental health issues associated with a bioterrorism and public health emergencies. The next meeting will be November 12, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Red River Room at the MDH Snelling Office Park. The focus of the next meeting will be to assign subgroup participants to various internal work groups that will be responsible for developing recommendations and policy on mental health response issues.
On November 1, the MDH will submit the first required Progress Report on the CDC Public Health Preparedness and the HRSA Hospital Preparedness funding to the Department of Health and Human Services.
First Quarter Report Due for Public Health Preparedness
Grants—Public Health Preparedness Grant Information
Julie Ring, MDH Community Health Division
Community Health Boards must submit their first quarter reports to the MDH by October 15. The report instructions and forms were mailed to all CHS Administrators on September 26.
The first quarter report is a simple narrative and expenditure report. The MDH is collecting this information to use in preparing the first quarter report that is due to the CDC on November 1. A State CHS Advisory Committee work group will develop the content of future reports.
By the time all of you read this, the first of what we hope will be a growing selection of risk communication materials and resources should be available on the MDH/OEP website at
For openers, we have included links to a variety of materials by Dr. Vincent Covello and Dr. Peter Sandman, who are probably the most widely recognized national authorities on risk communication issues.
Also included is a link to the online, “beta” version of “Emergency Risk Communication (ERC)”, a CD—ROM package still under development by CDC. CDC is currently seeking comment on the ERC package, the final version is which is expected to be available online by sometime in November, and in CD—ROM format by January. Even in its preliminary version, the ERC package offers a wealth of resources on risk communication and emergency communication planning. Included is a draft article by Dr. Sandman on the 10 “communications dilemmas” that he discussed in his Sept. 12 presentation at the annual Community Health Conference.
Once the final version becomes available, MDH will be adapting materials from the CD for use in Minnesota.
The Alabama Department of Public Health, in cooperation with the Public Health Training Network, is offering a six—part satellite conference series on risk communication. The first segment will air on November 5. The series appears to be based on a new emergency risk communication curriculum developed by CDC.
We expect to be adding more Minnesota—specific information to our risk communication page in the coming weeks, including specific information on messages and message development.
The OEP is working on developing training and education resources for local public health staff. Here are some of the things we are working on:
We are discussing options for statewide delivery of training on the Minnesota Incident Management System. Options we are exploring are a 4—6 hour MIMS overview, followed by a full 16—hour MIMS training for those that request this. In addition, we will be working with trainers to develop public health specific scenarios for use in MIMS trainings. More information on these trainings will be distributed as it becomes available.
General Bioterrorism Information
The OEP would like to know how much interest there is in the MDH presenting basic bioterrorism training for new local public health staff. This could include information on agents, transmission, sign and symptoms, etc.
The MDH has posted position openings for two Health Educators in the Office of Emergency Preparedness. These staff will coordinate trainings, develop training resources and help identify quality training opportunities.
Education and Training Resources
Following are some resources you may find helpful:
The CHS Mailbag has a calendar that highlights a number of training opportunities for local public health staff and partners: CHS Mailbag.
This site provides information on bioterrorism diseases, educational resources, and surveillance and epidemiology information.
Consensus statements for the medical management of biological weapons are available at
for an excellent, free, six—session, interactive satellite course, “Advanced Topics on Medical Defense Against Biological and Chemical Agents” developed by the US Army for civilian physicians, nurses, lab staff, public health staff and first responders.
If you have resources you would like to share with your public health peers, please forward these to DeeAnn Finley and these will be posted on the OEP website or distributed via e—mail.
Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program Update:
Pat Tommet, Hospital Bioterrorism Coordinator, OEP
Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the primary purpose of the Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program is to upgrade the ability of Minnesota’s hospitals and health care system to respond to bioterrorism events and other public health emergencies. A prime focus area will be the development and implementation of bioterrorism preparedness plans and protocols for hospitals and other participating health care entities. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has divided Minnesota into eight regions, using boundaries defined by the MDH’s State Community Health Services Advisory Committee. The number of hospitals within each region ranges from nine to 28, with a state—wide total of 143 hospitals.
The first of two phases of the Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program is complete.
All eight regions have submitted applications for Phase I, in which each region documented partnerships with key agencies (local and district public health, emergency management, public safety) and all hospitals within the region. In addition, hospitals selected a Regional Hospital Resource Center (RHRC) to serve as fiscal agent.
During Phase II, each RHRC will become the information and coordination conduit for all local, regional and state hospital bioterrorism preparedness activities. Each region must develop a plan to accommodate a surge of 500 acutely ill patients. This will require each hospital to assess and increase their capacity in seven priority areas. First priority planning areas focus on medications and vaccines; personal protection, quarantine and decontamination; communications; and biological disaster drills. Second priority planning areas include personnel, training and patient transfer. Although these plans are due by January 10, 2003, implementation is expected to take a minimum of 12—18 months.
Phase II Technical Assistance Document
The Technical Assistance (TA) document is the newest addition to the OEP website. This document contains information and resources specific to each of the seven priority areas that will assist hospitals in the development and implementation of their bioterrorism preparedness plans and protocols. The TA document is a companion to the Phase II Responsibilities Checklist and will be updated frequently as new information becomes available.
Two new staff from the Office of Emergency Preparedness will coordinate and
manage this program. Pat Tommet is the Hospital Bioterrorism Coordinator and
will provide technical assistance to RHRCs to facilitate program planning and
implementation. Pat is a nurse practitioner with more than 20 years of clinical
and administrative experience at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in
Minneapolis/St. Paul. Erny Mattila is the Senior Grants Specialist and will
manage grant awards, agreements and financial aspects. Erny served as a city
planner for local government for more than 25 years, working with grant programs
and economic development. Most recently, Erny worked for the Department of
Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management as a grant specialist for their
hazardous material and terrorism grant programs.