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For Release: Dec. 4, 2013 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

New U.S. Preparedness Index Shows Oklahoma’s Strengths and Challenges in Protecting State's Health During Disasters 

Oklahoma’s overall health security exceeds the national average according to the National Health Security Preparedness Index™ (NHSPI™), announced today by the

Association for State and Territorial Health Officials in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 20 development partners.

The index is a new way to measure and advance the nation’s readiness to protect people during a disaster. Oklahoma’s overall 2013 NHSPI result was 7.3, slightly exceeding the national average of 7.2, based on public health and health care system measures that influence health security. The overall national range was 5.9 – 8.0. Index results will be updated annually.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health supports this comprehensive measure of our state’s health security,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “Health security is the readiness of the nation, state or community to protect itself from public health threats, such as a major disease outbreak or natural disaster, and the ability to recover from these types of incidents. Our results affirm that we have made great progress and that we have opportunities for improvement as well.”

Together, five domains, 14 sub-domains, and 128 measures form the 2013 Index Structure used to calculate NHSPI state results. Oklahoma’s 2013 index identified the following strengths and potential areas for development.

  • Health Surveillance – OK result was 7.5; national average was 7.3.

This domain confirmed Oklahoma’s ability to quickly conduct disease surveillance and epidemiological investigations supported by a highly ranked public health laboratory that is capable of conducting analysis to detect biological and infectious disease agents from clinical, biothreats (e.g., “white powders”), and referred environmental specimens (e.g., isolates received from the state Department of Environmental Quality for water testing and from the state Department of Agriculture for food testing).

  • Community Planning and Engagement – OK result was 6.4; national average was 6.1

This domain reviewed Oklahoma’s community collaboration, public health accreditation, outreach to school districts on crisis preparedness, disaster management for vulnerable populations, health care manpower issues, and management of volunteers during emergencies. A strength noted was Oklahoma’s pre-registered health professional volunteer program (Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps), where Oklahoma scored 6.9 compared to the national average of 3.7 for this sub-domain. An area identified for greater development was increased collaboration with the state Department of Education in coordination of school health and safety policies and management of multiple hazards during a public health emergency.

  • Incident & Information Management – OK result was 7.4; national average was 7.7.

This domain documented strengths in Oklahoma’s ability to coordinate a public health response among multiple agencies including rapid notification of sentinel laboratories and other health care partners through electronic communication, assurance that the state has a dispensing prophylaxis plan that accounts for all operational elements of a local mass prophylaxis and dispensing plan, that a hospital and alternate care facilities coordination plan exists, and assurances that the state Public Health Laboratory can work in concert with sentinel clinical laboratories in a public health incident. This domain also affirmed that Oklahoma has a proactive Public Information and Communication Plan in place to quickly alert key response partners in the event of a public health emergency. An area noted for greater development was improving the percentage of local health departments with an Emergency Preparedness Director, although the NHSPI data did not account for recent progress the Oklahoma State Department of Health has made in funding Local Emergency Response Coordinators in county health departments. This domain also addressed elements not within the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s oversight including percentage of the state covered by enhanced 911 or Wireless 911, as well as number of households with residential fixed Internet connections.

  • Surge Management – OK result was 5.7; national average was 5.8.

This domain contained measures providing information regarding the timeliness of patient movement to reduce medical surge bottlenecks including number of hospitals, staffed beds, trauma center coverage, health care manpower, and availability of mental and behavioral health care counselors and psychologists. Few of these measures are within Oklahoma State Department of Health’s ability to impact or influence.

  • Countermeasure Management – OK result was 9.4; national average was 9.0.

This domain’s measures include areas of high priority for the Oklahoma State Department of Health including acquiring, managing, housing, and dispensing Strategic National Stockpile assets to the public to assure the public has critical medications if needed during a public health emergency. This domain also addressed countermeasure utilization and effectiveness, including percentage of children ages 19 to 35 months who have received four or more doses of DTP, three or more doses of poliovirus vaccine, one or more doses of any measles-containing vaccine, and three or more doses of hepatitis B vaccine. Seasonal influenza vaccination rates were also described for seniors, children and adults, and the senior pneumococcal vaccination rate was also included. The Oklahoma State Department of Health continues to consider improvement of vaccination rates for adults and children as a growth opportunity.

As part of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s strategic planning process, the agency will utilize the NHSPI to identify areas for improvement in the state’s preparedness infrastructure. For more information on the NHSPI, visit http://www.nhspi.org.

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