For Immediate Release
September 6, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Kansas Scores High in Public Health Preparedness

Kansas is well prepared to help provide drugs and medical supplies from a federal stockpile in the event of a public health emergency, according to a recent review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has been notified that the state received a rating of 93 percent in its readiness to request, receive, and distribute resources from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), a federal repository of drugs and medical supplies.

CDC representatives visited Kansas this summer to collect information. T he results of the yearly assessment were just made known to KDHE officials.

“These results demonstrate that Kansas is in a good position to distribute and dispense needed medical resources in response to an emergency, such as a bioterrorism incident or pandemic influenza,” stated Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE. “Protecting the health and safety of Kansans is our main goal, and we can never be too prepared. Still, we are quite pleased by this outcome.”

Officials say the state’s high rating is due to several factors, including good cooperation among agencies and with other states, very highly rated security plans, and excellent public information, distribution, and dispensing capabilities.

“A public health emergency will stretch the capabilities of numerous agencies, and that is why we will keep on striving to improve through training, drills, and exercises,” stated Mindee Reece, Director of the KDHE Center for Public Health Preparedness (CPHP). “Local health departments and hospitals are often the first line of defense, and we must continue to work together to assure that life-saving medications and medical supplies are available when needed.”

Reece said future efforts will include more assistance and training to help local health departments and hospitals improve their preparedness, as well as additional exercises to help the state improve its capability to perform its functions related to the SNS. CPHP is developing a three-year strategy for administering these exercises.

“While progress continues to be made, the level of preparedness across the state is not uniform,” said Reece. “Some of the local health agencies are continuing to develop their plans to receive and dispense antibiotics, and this state, regional, and local effort continues to be one of our highest priorities.”

The KDHE-CPHP and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management hosted the first statewide SNS exercise, called Kansas HEAT, in August 2006. There have also been numerous local and regional SNS exercises, and Reece said that they had been beneficial.

The CDC assessment evaluated the state’s ability and plans for managing SNS resources, including communications, security, storage, inventory, repackaging, and distribution and dispensing capabilities. The state is responsible for receiving SNS supplies, repackaging them, and distributing them to local health departments, which are then responsible for dispensing medications directly to members of the public.

The SNS contains a large quantity of antibiotics, chemical antidotes, other medications, and medical supplies to protect people in the event of a national emergency . The first shipments from the stockpile can be delivered to any state within 12 hours.