This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief blog.
Local health departments’ day-to-day operations impact National Health Security across the country. Every time local health officials run a vaccination clinic, spearhead a disease prevention campaign, or deliver life saving provisions to disaster survivors, their work directly contributes to advancing the nation’s health security. In fact, everything local health departments do aims to improve the health of people in their community, and healthier people are more likely to survive a disaster and make a faster recovery. That’s what national health security is all about: creating a resilient nation through sustained health outcomes as a result of effective prevention, preparedness, and response efforts.
To build greater awareness about the critical role of local public health in national health security and to promote best practices, NACCHO in partnership with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) created the National Health Security Awards program. Launched in 2015, the annual recognition spotlights local health departments across the country for their significant accomplishments in health security-related initiatives. The program’s second cohort of awardees were recently announced at the 2017 NACCHO Annual conference held in Pittsburgh on July 11-13, 2017. Recipients were honored for their achievements supporting one of five strategic objectives in the 2015-2018 National Health Security Strategy and Implementation Plan.
NACCHO and ASPR congratulate all five winners for their outstanding work in building healthy, resilient communities; using medical countermeasures and non-pharmaceutical interventions; ensuring comprehensive health situational awareness; integrating emergency management systems; and strengthening global health security. The following summaries showcase the 2017 awardees and their corresponding achievements highlighted as driving national health security forward.
Building and Sustaining Healthy, Resilient Communities: Kent County Health Department, Michigan
The Kent County Inclusive Preparedness Program (KCIPP) provides accessible emergency preparedness training to Kent County residents of all abilities. A five-module program was developed to provide people of all abilities the opportunity to learn basic emergency preparedness in order to promote resiliency in the community. The topics chosen for the first cohort were basic emergency preparedness, hands-only CPR, fire safety, basic first aid, and sheltering/mass care.
Effectively Using Medical Countermeasures and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions: City of St. Louis Department of Health, Missouri
The City of St. Louis Department of Health partnered with the Saint Louis University School of Nursing to develop emergency preparedness training incorporated as a mandatory component of the program’s curriculum. The training aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Provide communities with a sustainable base of disaster-trained volunteers prepared to serve the community in a time of crisis;
- Increase nurses’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities in preparing for and responding to disasters; and
- Engage with St. Louis University to serve as a closed point-of-distribution (POD) during major disasters/events.
Ensuring Comprehensive Health Situational Awareness: Grand Traverse County Health Department, Michigan
Northern Michigan Public Health Emergency Preparedness (NMPHEP) works closely with the Regional Emergency Coordination Center (RECC), which serves as a fusion center in the Northwest Region of Michigan, actively monitoring public health occurrences in the jurisdiction. The established partnership, which offers virtual capabilities enables public health officials from each local health department to communicate with the NMPHEP response entity. More specifically, local health officials can directly notify NMPHEP staff if a situation is growing and could potentially become a taxing public health response operation. This operation was employed to support Michigan state’s recent Hepatitis A outbreak response.
Integrating Public Health, Healthcare, and Emergency Management Systems: Oakland County Health Division, Michigan
The Oakland County Health Division, Emergency Preparedness Unit created separate partnership committees with long-term care and hospital facilities throughout Oakland County to assist with emergency preparedness efforts. This initiative included engaging with individuals with functional and access needs to better understand how to protect these at-risk populations during public health emergencies. Committees were established to foster ongoing connections between local healthcare facilities and Oakland County government agencies, and to ensure all stakeholders received access to resources furthering their emergency preparedness and response capacity.
Strengthening Global Health Security: Public Health – Seattle and King County, Washington
Between January 2015 and December 2016, Public Health Seattle and King County’s (PHSKC) Preparedness Program and Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program conducted three large-scale TB contact investigations, which included medical evaluations of of more than 1,600 individuals. This massive undertaking was made possible through the health department’s collaborative efforts engaging King County’s Medical Reserve Corps; the Public Health Reserve Corps; nurses from neighboring counties; and staff from the Washington State Department of Health.
The formal application announcement for next year’s National Health Security Awards will be released via this blog at a later date in 2017. In the meantime, NACCHO and ASPR urge local health departments to share how their agency is contributing to national health security throughout the entire year. Please contact NACCHO’s Preparedness Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for opportunities to promote local public health accomplishments in national health security and/or other emergency preparedness efforts through NACCHO’s wide reaching communication channels! Click here to learn more about the National Health Security Strategy.