In this issue:
- Bioterrorism Preparedness report ranks Minnesota among top six states
- Budget Brief FY 2005 Budget
- Minnesota Responds!
- Over 17,000 phone calls made to MN flu hotline
- What IS the correct terminology?
- Governor’s Homeland Security Symposium
- Upcoming Training Opportunities
The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) recently issued a report on state bioterrorism preparedness activities. The report shows Minnesota ranks in the top tier, scoring 8 out of a possible 10 indicators, placing it in a tie with Nebraska, New Hampshire and Virginia. Florida and North Carolina had higher scores, with 9 out of 10 indicators.
A Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) news release indicated the indicators for which Minnesota received a passing score this year included:
- making effective use of federal preparedness funding provided to the states
- maintaining or increasing state-level funding for public health activities
coordinating public health preparedness planning between state and local government
- having a relatively young public health workforce, with less than 25 percent eligible to retire within five years
- having sufficient bio-safety level three laboratory capacity to handle lab work relating to possible terrorist incidents
- having the legal authority to quarantine individuals who could be infectious during an infectious disease emergency
- achieving an increase in the percentage of people over 65 who have been vaccinated against influenza
- having in place a plan for responding to a possible outbreak of pandemic influenza
The two indicators for which Minnesota did not receive a passing score included having enough lab personnel to test for plague or anthrax during a possible bioterrorism attack, and having a system for tracking disease on a daily basis using the Internet.
MDH officials believe the report may not reflect the most recent information about public health preparedness in Minnesota, especially regarding the availability of laboratory staff to handle possible bioterrorism events. They also noted that Internet-based systems are only one tool for tracking disease. However, they were also gratified to be recognized for their efforts by TFAH.
“Since 9-11, we have had a broad coalition of agencies and organizations working very hard to increase our level of preparedness for health-related terrorist attacks,” said Dianne Mandernach, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. “The team includes both my agency and local public health agencies, all across the state. It also includes law enforcement, state and local emergency management personnel, the health care system, and major voluntary organizations.
“We're happy to see that all this hard work is beginning to pay off, and that we're being recognized for it at the national level,” Mandernach said.
TFAH is a non-partisan, non-profit study group that focuses on disease prevention issues and describes its mission as “saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.” TFAH is sponsored by a number of major foundations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Support for the new preparedness report was also provided by the Bauman Foundation and the New York Community Trust.
108th Congress passes Omnibus Appropriations
Executive Summary. December 9, 2004.
“Congress passed a revised omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 4818) on December 6, 2004, to provide funding for the nine remaining fiscal year (FY) 2005 spending bills. (Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/State, Energy and water development, foreign operations, Interior, Labor/Health and Human Services/Education, legislative branch, Transportation/Treasury, and Veterans Affairs/Housing and Urban Development). A third continuing resolution provided funding for these programs at FY 2004 funding levels December 8, 2004. A provision regarding the ability to view an individual's tax return held up passage of the bill, and the provision was subsequently removed.
“Overall FY 2005 appropriations were approximately level-funded compared to FY 2004. The final budget included a 0.8% across-the-board cut that was applied to most discretionary spending programs.
“This Budget Brief describes important components of H.R. 4818 and its impact on FY 2005. Budget Brief 04-07 and Budget Brief 04-08 include updates of previously passed FY 2005 appropriation bills. Table 1 summarizes changes in budget authority for major state grant programs.”Table 1 Funding for Major Discretionary and Mandatory Programs
(federal fiscal years; dollars in millions)
According to this table, money appropriated to CDC – State & Local Capacity (Bioterrorism) was as follows:
Enacted FY 2004: $934
Pres. Budget FY 2005: $829
Senate FY 2005: $934
House FY 2005: $934
Enacted FY 2005: $927
Change FY 04-FY 05 $- 8 (-0.8%)
At the end of October, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched an electronic registry for health personnel interested in volunteering during a public health emergency. Minnesota Responds! was activated on October 18, 2004, as a pilot project to allow people to sign up as volunteers in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and several counties in Greater Minnesota.
Data from Minnesota Responds! will be used for planning the state's health response to an act of terrorism or other type of large-scale emergency. This registry was developed in close collaboration with public health agencies at all levels of government, with community organizations, and with the Medical Reserve Corps, a program of the Office of the Surgeon General.
By entering information into the online application, a person volunteering indicates a willingness to help out in an emergency and to receive the necessary training, screening, orientation, and deployment. The application only indicates an interest; it is not a legally binding document.
Minnesota Responds! is looking for people in every health occupation. If you live in one of the following counties and want to volunteer, please contact a Medical Reserve Corps coordinator or volunteer coordinator at your local public health agency.
In early 2005, the MDH will meet with local public health and hospitals in Greater Minnesota to discuss how Minnesota Responds! will work in these communities. Additional meetings will be held until all counties are coordinated with Minnesota Responds!
The information stored in Minnesota Responds! will be available to MDH and its local, state and federal partners involved in planning for public health emergencies. The data is accessed through the MDH Workspace, a password-protected site, and is not available to the public.
MDH will assist counties with identifying resources for working with their volunteers and to develop cooperative relationships with adjacent jurisdictions. MDH will also train local public health authorized users on accessing the data and will provide other technical assistance, as needed.
Since mid-October 2005, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) worked with clinics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Minnesotans to ensure that individuals at highest risk receive the influenza vaccine.
Because of the volume of phone calls, a flu hotline was opened at our 717 Delaware building, with employees volunteering from across the Department. During October and November, phone calls to the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division (IDEPC) totaled 17,804 calls.
An easier way was needed to schedule volunteers, so IDEPC Hotline staff contacted the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) staff and asked for assistance to set up an on-line system to recruit and schedule volunteers. When the need for volunteers exceeded the capacity of MDH employees, OEP contacted several groups to staff the flu hotline.
Many thanks are extended to individuals from these organizations:
- Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Citizen Corps programs
- Volunteers of America (of Minnesota)
- Students from the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center Emergency Preparedness Program
In early December, the flu hotline was transferred to the Metro Square building to make volunteering more convenient for MDH employees who work in downtown St. Paul. Soon thereafter, the number of calls decreased drastically, the hotline was closed and downgraded to Phase 1.
The hotline was in full force for 31 business days. At its peek on October 19, MDH received 1,712 calls.
Although the hotline is not in service now, any change in the amount of vaccine or the number of people getting ill could require the hotline be reopened. If that occurs, we'll again turn to our partners for a helping hand. Thanks to all the MDH staff and our partner agencies that volunteered to answer our calls from concerned Minnesotans. It was a wonderful example of how public health works in Minnesota.
There has been much confusion regarding the terminology used to describe the organization of a coordinated response to a disaster or public health event by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The terms * "ICS," "MIMS," "IMS," and "NIMS" are often used interchangeably.While the usage of these terms may be technically correct, using these different acronyms is confusing to staff who are new to these concepts.
The Health Emergency Preparedness Area Command Team (HEPACT) met recently and discussed the adoption of common terminology that will be used Department wide in developing training and plans.
The Incident Command System (ICS) is a term that describes the organizational structure and operating characteristics of an incident management organization. However, Federal guidance for implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) introduces two new organizational structures called Multi-agency Coordination Systems and Public Information Systems. MDH emergency response plans incorporate all of these systems in preparation, response, and response to a disaster or public health event.
As MDH emergency response plans and training move forward, it is more important than ever, that terminology is consistent and accurately reflects the scope of MDH activities. For this reason, HEPACT has decided that the accepted term describing the MDH response organization during a disaster or public health event will be called the Incident Management System, or IMS . This term is more inclusive of all the MDH activities that will take place in preparing for, preventing, responding to, and recovering from a disaster or public health event.
* ICS - Incident Command System
MIMS - Minnesota Incident Management System
IMS - Incident Management System
NIMS - National Incident Management System
Commissioner of Health Dianne Mandernach and other Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) staff provided an update on health preparedness efforts to attendees of the Governor's Homeland Security Symposium on November 23, 2004.
Commissioner Mandernach acknowledged and thanked the many partners who have helped MDH and Minnesota's health care system to become an integral part of the state's larger system for responding to emergencies. While some areas of MDH and the public health system have played active roles in responding to a variety of disasters for many years, she said, we have lacked many specific plans and procedures to guide that response. Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated agencies and individuals over the past few years, however, that has changed.
Robert Einweck, Director of the MDH Office of Emergency Preparedness, talked to the group about the Department's vision for health emergency preparedness and response. MDH will soon have an all-hazard response plan in place, and local public health agencies are working on similar plans for their areas. In addition, Pat Tommet, MDH Hospital Preparedness Program Supervisor, provided information about the priorities of her program, and Ginny Baresch, Minnesota's Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator, briefed the audience on her program's accomplishments and priorities.
Elected state and county officials were the primary audience. Other attendees included representatives of federal, state and local agencies involved in emergency preparedness planning efforts.
Upcoming Training Opportunities
The Role of Public Health in a Nuclear or Radiological Terrorist Incident
February 3, 2005 1:00-2:00 PM ET
A National Center for Environmental Health and public Health Training Network (PHTN) Satellite Broadcast
This live, satellite broadcast/webcast will explain radiation and describe the roles the public health workforce will play in the event of a nuclear or radiological terrorist attack. Federal, state and local roles will be discussed to provide the public health workforce with the tools needed to respond to a radiological incident. A question and answer session will enable participants nationwide to pose questions to panelists.
Target audience includes state and local health agency senior officials, emergency planners, health educators, epidemiologists, environmental health specialists, public health officials and nurses, public health students, and first responders.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
2:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern Time
The Department of Homeland Security and the National Terrorism Preparedness Institute present Live Response , a recurring bi-monthly videotaped satellite broadcast that offers Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) related awareness information to the nation's civilian and military emergency response communities.
The primary target audience includes federal, state, and local law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical services (EMS), emergency management, and public works. Secondary audiences for this program include federal, state, and local police academies, university police, military police/security units, military emergency preparedness officials, sheriff's offices and public health officials.
- WMD Interactive Discussion Program: Manage and Coordinate a Large Scale Incident While Maintaining Routine Operations
The Communications Notebook is a new resource for local public health staff to use with local decision makers and other members of the community. The Notebook includes four 10-to-15 minute presentations that describe:
Public health preparedness
Key responsibilities of government in emergency preparedness
Strategic National Stockpile and implications for local planning
Communication capacity (technology and risk communication)
Each presentation includes a set of PowerPoint slides, the corresponding script, and a fact sheet. The Notebook also includes an exercise, Bridging Brown County, which was designed to engage local decision makers. The exercise includes scenarios with biological agents that could be encountered in Minnesota, a description of an effective response, an evaluation and feedback forms.
Minnesota's South Central Region developed this communications tool, which can be modified for your region.
You'll find the Communications Notebook in the MDH Workspace. After logging on, go to “Training Resources.”
Check out another new website that includes a collection of resources, surveys, biosecurity and related activities.
“While advanced technology often is used as an instrument of terrorism, technological tools can also be a vital source of prevention and deterrence of, and defense against, acts and agents of terrorism. In that spirit, the National Academies are engaged in a broad array of studies and other activities to aid the Nation's response to the threat of bio-terrorism. This collection describes the portfolio of current studies and activities underway on the subject of biosecurity, as well as reports and other products produced since September 11, 2001. Some of the activities initiated at the National Academies were and currently are aimed at providing immediate near-term advice to the government and more broadly to the nation; some refocused on-going efforts to better meet needs of federal agencies in the wake of the events of September 11; and some were aimed at helping design a long term agenda for the role of science and technology in countering events of bioterrorism. In addition to these recent efforts, a significant number of relevant reports pre-date the events of September 11, 2001.
Yale New Haven Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response launches a new emergency preparedness and response web site for healthcare providers.
The site provides up-to-date information on emergency preparedness including:
Hazard vulnerability analysis
Emergency credentialing of healthcare providers
Education and training
Incident command systems
Emergency plan development
An introductory course offering, Emergency Management 102, provides Awareness-level emergency preparedness training.
The Dialogue is a quarterly technical assistance bulletin on disaster mental health and substance abuse created by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
This publication offers an arena for professionals in the disaster behavioral health field to share information, resources, trends, solutions to problems, and accomplishments. Readers are invited to contribute profiles of successful programs, book reviews, highlights of State and regional trainings, and other news items.
Examples of articles:
- Achieving the Promise – Transforming the mental health system through technical assistance
- Suggested Reading List
- Sustaining effective mental health disaster response capabilities
- Reflections from the Project Director: The New York Response to 9/11/01
The electronic monthly issue of "e-Satellite Update," delivered by California Distance Learning Health Network (CDLHN), covers a variety of topics. The December 2004 issue includes:
Satellite broadcasts, webcasts and live on-site training courses
E-satellite+ Program Guide/Newsletter Fall 2004
Public Health Café Presentations
Products for sale (videos on health topics)