BATON ROUGE, La.—For the second consecutive year, Louisiana scored a perfect 100 on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) evaluation of the state's public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities. Louisiana and seven other states scored 100 two years in a row. Louisiana's public health laboratories also received exemplary marks. The CDC's "Public Health Preparedness: 2011 State-by-State Update on Laboratory Capabilities and Response Readiness Planning" report released today evaluates the state over a three-year period, from 2007-2010.
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein says the report reaffirms what he saw in action during the recent Pearl River fish kill, New Orleans marsh fires and Tropical Storm Lee. "Governor Jindal has challenged every state agency to execute our disaster preparedness and response functions flawlessly. I am so proud of our team at DHH, our sister agencies and all of our partners who have together proved that Louisiana is tremendously well prepared to respond to a health crisis. Whether it's been in the face of a hurricane, an oil spill or a pandemic flu, they have proven that fact time and again," Greenstein said.
DHH's Center for Community Preparedness Director Doris G. Brown, RN, MEd, MS, CNS, said the perfect score is a direct reflection of the hard work of the state and its partners through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement between the Office of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Hospital Preparedness Program. "We plan and train with our partners so that when we are faced with a man-made or natural disaster we are ready," Brown said.
In the report, all 50 states and 4 localities directly funded by the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement were graded on their ability to effectively receive and distribute the CDC's Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), a cache of drugs and medical supplies to protect the American public if there is a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. The CDC and state public health departments conduct annual technical assistance reviews (TAR) to assess emergency preparedness plans for receiving, staging, storing, distributing and dispensing the SNS to ensure continued readiness for all disasters. The state must attain a score of 79 or higher in order to continue to receive preparedness funding from the federal government.
The report also evaluated states' public health laboratories. The DHH labs received high marks for their ability to test for and detect chemical and biological agents and their ability to assist DHH epidemiologists in carrying out epidemiological surveillance for early detection of potential threats. The DHH labs test daily for bacteria in foods and human samples to ensure rapid response to public health emergencies. The labs also help the state's public drinking water systems maintain federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards by testing for contamination. The state has four public health labs.
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, Twitter account and Facebook.