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Director’s Update

By Mike Harryman, Director of Emergency Operations

Last month Deputy Director Jean O’Connor, D.P.H., announced the new goals and priorities for the Public Health Division to make Oregon one of the healthiest states in the U.S. and make Oregon’s public health system into a national model of excellence.

In addition to focusing on public health prevention programs, community resilience to emergencies is a key priority for the division. The Public Health Division’s Health Security, Preparedness and Response program is working with the counties to ensure that all communities are able to respond and recover quickly from public health emergencies. I’d like to share three examples of how we’re developing community resilience.

First, a critical component for community resilience is the sustainability of medical volunteer programs. Through SERV-OR and county based Medical Reserve Corps units, Oregon has over 750 medical volunteers who are trained and ready to assist during an emergency. When not helping with emergencies, the medical volunteers train with county health departments through vaccination clinics.

Another critical component for community resilience is the continued work with our state and county partners through the Oregon Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Program, which delivers critical medical assets to the scene of an emergency. The SNS Program is reviewed annually by the CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile (DSNS) to measure its planning and response capabilities. This year the program received a 98 percent grade, up from 92 percent last year, on its overall readiness to respond to an all-hazard event.  There are only three other programs in the United States that were ranked higher (New York, N.Y.; Albany / Schenectady / Troy, N.Y.; and Chicago, Ill.). This high score is a testament to the support we received from our emergency preparedness partners.

Finally, our partnerships with county health departments, Oregon tribes and healthcare partners continue to build resiliency across the state. Effective July 1, 2012, our two federal cooperative agreements will be aligned. What this means is our focus and energy will be working with our partners on the following critical capabilities: community and healthcare resiliency, public information and warning, emergency operations, information sharing, medical surge, and surveillance and lab operations. Both PHEP and HPP funding will provide the firm foundations to help us achieve these goals and objectives.

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