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FOR RELEASE: December 12 , 2006
CONTACT: Larry Weatherford
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahoma Scores Highest in Nation on Preparedness Report Card

The Trust For America's Health (TFAH) 2006 report released today, Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, lists Oklahoma as the top-ranked state in the nation in readiness for a catastrophic health event or terrorist attack. The report recognizes the preparedness efforts of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and its state and local partners over the past several years.

For 2006, Oklahoma scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in a list of state preparedness indicators. Among the factors analyzed were Oklahoma’s ability to distribute medicines and supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, maintain laboratory capacity and personnel to detect biologic agents used in a terrorist attack, maintain year-round laboratory surveillance for influenza, and provide hospital bed surge capacity for at least two weeks during a moderate pandemic. The report also reviewed seasonal flu vaccination rates and pneumonia vaccination rates for persons over 65, electronic disease data reporting, nursing workforce availability, and funding for public health services.

Gov. Brad Henry took note of the report and said, “Oklahoma’s highest ranking from the Trust for America’s Health reflects the commitment and hard work of our state’s healthcare community. Being prepared for catastrophic events, whether natural or manmade, requires the combined efforts of many people spanning a wealth of disciplines. Oklahomans are fortunate that we have so many honorable men and women dedicated to the cause of public health and public safety. We must remain vigilant, and the ranking from the Trust for America’s Health indicates that we are being just that.”

While pleased with the high ranking, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher said his agency recognizes that this is a snapshot of a point in time and that the criteria selected by the TFAH changes from year to year. “The efforts by OSDH staff and its state and local partners to better prepare for terrorism response or any catastrophic health emergency are ongoing and will not be judged by an interest group report but will stand on their own if and when disaster strikes our state,” he emphasized.

The OSDH has identified several challenges in assuring Oklahoma’s readiness for a public health emergency including the following: continued need to sustain objectives while operating with decreased funding to meet those objectives, an aging public health workforce, concern regarding the ability of the medical system to handle “surge capacity” during a public health crisis, difficulty in sustaining long-term employee and public interest on readiness issues, and post-Katrina skepticism toward government.
TFAH’s report and state-by-state materials are available at: www.healthyamericans.org.

Score Summary --

10 out of 10: Oklahoma
9 out of 10: Kansas
8 out of 10: Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
7 out of 10: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee
6 out of 10: Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin
5 out of 10: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, D.C., Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina
4 out of 10: California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey

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