For Immediate Release
Mike Heideman, 785-296-4363
Kansas met six out of 10 criteria for public health emergency preparedness in a report released today by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The full report, titled “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism,” can be found on the Web at http://healthyamericans.org.
“The Kansas response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus demonstrates that we have taken significant steps to protect the health of the public, especially from new and emerging threats,” stated Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE. “We appreciate the information provided in the TFAH report and will integrate it into our overall and ongoing assessment of state public health preparedness.”
Some of the indicators that Kansas met included:
The report suggests some areas for improvement. One of these is that Kansas’ electronic disease tracking system is not fully compatible with the system used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because it does not yet include electronic laboratory reporting. KDHE has now finished the work needed to complete the system which will become operable in early 2010.
The report also noted that health investigators identify diseases associated with foodborne outbreaks less frequently than the national average. Most reported foodborne illness outbreaks in Kansas involve only a small number of people, which often makes it difficult to confirm the specific cause of illness. The symptoms of many different foodborne diseases are similar, and patients are often reluctant to submit samples for lab analysis.
According to the report, Kansas also failed to meet the indicator for states to require all licensed childcare facilities to have a written multi-hazard evacuation and relocation plan. Despite the information listed in the report, Kansas does in fact require child care facilities and day care homes to have multi-hazard written evacuation and relocation plans. This regulation (K.A.R. 28-4-128) was put in place in 1990 to address emergency planning needs and pertains to all registered and licensed day care homes, preschools, child care centers, group boarding homes and residential centers in Kansas. This year, in light of H1N1, pandemic flu preparedness and planning was emphasized with child care providers and guidance was provided. KDHE has requested a change in the state score.
The indicators used in the report change from year to year, which causes the scores that states receive to vary from year to year. The 2009 report is the seventh of its kind to be released in as many years. Kansas met six out of 10 indicators in 2008, seven out of 10 indicators in 2007, nine out of 10 in 2006, five out of 10 in 2005, seven out of 10 in 2004, and three out of 10 in 2003.