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Oregon counties earn national recognition for public health preparedness efforts

By Lynda Neal

Washington County Health and Human Services and the North Central Public Health District recently met comprehensive preparedness benchmarks required by Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a unique partnership between the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

"We are proud to have been recognized by Project Public Health Ready for our high level of preparedness,” said Teri Thalhofer, director of the North Central Public Health District.   “We will continue to work with our preparedness partners to quickly and effectively respond to any public health crisis in Wasco, Sherman, or Gilliam counties.”

Local health departments recognized by PPHR undergo a thorough evaluation process by a national peer review. They must meet expectations in public health preparedness in three key areas: preparedness planning, work force competency, and demonstration of all-hazards readiness through exercises or a response to a real event. 

"It was a rigorous process, but we are better prepared having gone through the intensive evaluation," said Sue Mohnkern, Washington County Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency Preparedness supervisor.

Inspired by the success of these two health departments, Multnomah County recently submitted its application for PPHR recognition. 

"We learned a great deal from the agencies that successfully went before us,” said Jim Spitzer, Emergency Preparedness manager, Multnomah County Health Department. "The Health Security, Preparedness, and Response staff that assisted us with our application were an invaluable resource and we couldn't have done it without their expertise."

Local health departments interested in applying for PPHR recognition can contact their state Public Health liaison or Lynda Neal, PPHR lead for Oregon, at 971-673-0570, or lynda.neal@state.or.us.

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