September 10, 2002
In this issue:
- Community Health Conference Reminder
- Smallpox Planning
- Funding and Reporting Update for Community Health Boards
- Statewide Training Activities
- Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program (HBPP) Update
On September 11—13, MDH staff, along with our local public health and other partners will be meeting at the Breezy Point Resort for the Community Health Conference. The focus of the conference is bioterrorism and emergency preparedness. I hope to see you there. Before the start of the conference I want to update everyone on planning activities occurring at MDH and throughout Minnesota.
MDH sent at the end of August to approximately 10,000 physicians in Minnesota. The letter provided a brief overview of smallpox, and smallpox vaccination. In addition, the letter outlined the vaccination recommendations expected from the federal government. Physicians were asked to return a response card indicating if they would be willing to receive the smallpox vaccine in a non-emergent situation, and if necessary, to volunteer to triage or vaccinate individuals at a community clinic. The intent of the survey was to get a sampling of what is the view of physicians regarding smallpox. Response cards from the physicians started arriving at MDH after Labor Day. To date, MDH has received approximately 300 names of physicians from all over the state willing to contribute their expertise. Some of the responses from the physicians included messages such as, “I think it is great that MDH is doing this”, “Good idea”, and “I’m glad to help” A few retired physicians even mentioned they saw smallpox patients during World War II. The data from the response cards will be distributed to local public health departments, and may be useful planning for preparedness.
Community Health Boards (CHB’s) will receive their first grant payment during the week of September 2. This first payment will cover the months of June, July and August of 2002. Then, beginning in September, CHBs will receive an automatic monthly grant payment at the end of each month. The monthly payment will equal 1/15 of the total award. Payments will be sent via electronic funds transfer (EFT) to the fiscal agent listed on the first page of your grant project agreements.
Now that the paperwork is done, and the funds are available, MDH staff will begin distributing more information about grant requirements. The State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC) has established a short—term review group to clarify the activities, outcomes, and reporting mechanism for local public health grants so that CHB’s, and MDH are successful in meeting the benchmarks established by the CDC. The SCHSAC will be soliciting volunteers for this group at the September 11, SCHSAC meeting at Breezy Point. You can also volunteer by contacting Julie Ring.
A previous OEP Newsletter article mentioned a collaborative pneumonic plague training effort between MDH, Yellow Medicine County Emergency Management, and regional Division of Emergency Management staff that took place on August 22. The article however, failed to mention the tremendous contribution, and hard work provided by Michelle Caveney, Director, Yellow Medicine County Emergency Management, and her staff. Ms. Caveney contributed in every phase of the training including; developing the plague scenario, finding a meeting place, inviting attendees, and providing food for the participants. The Minnesota Department of Health appreciates the professionalism of Ms. Caveney, and her staff, and offers Yellow Medicine County Emergency Management its extreme gratitude for a job well done.
Development of a pandemic flu training exercise continues. The internal planning team met on September 4 to set goals, and priorities for the training exercise. The goal of the training is to help local public health, and emergency management respond to a pandemic flu outbreak.
The newly hired community planners in the MDH District Offices will work with local public health, and local emergency management to adapt the flu training “package” to meet the needs of the local community. The package of materials will be developed by the flu planning team. Materials that will be developed for statewide use include; fact sheets, risk communication tools, flu basics “101”, train the trainer models, reference sheets, and a flu outbreak scenario. The draft version of the training exercise is currently intended for a six-hour session. The final version of the flu training exercise will be ready for statewide use in November.
The Central Region Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program (HBPP) meeting took place in St. Cloud on September 6. Dr. John Hick, MDH Medical Director for the hospital preparedness grant, and the OEP presented an overview of the grant requirements. Jim Losinski gave a brief presentation on the CDC Public Health Preparedness grant, and answered questions on the role of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. The audience consisted of local public representatives, physicians, and local emergency management, and hospital administrators.
The MDH has hired Patricia Tommet, RN, PhD, CNP to serve as the Hospital Bioterrorism Coordinator. Pat will begin work on September 11, and will be joining us at the Community Health Conference. Watch for more from, (and on) Pat in future newsletters.