emergency preparedness

BOSTON. The 123rd Running of the Boston Marathon to Include Expanded Deployment of Everbridge (Business Wire)

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has significantly expanded the role of Everbridge’s Critical Event Management (CEM) platform to communicate critical event updates and safety information to all of its volunteers during the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon, taking place Monday, April 15th. This year, the BAA will use Everbridge to provide real-time notifications to its network of nearly 10,000 volunteers preceding the event and during race-day events including start times, route updates or disruptions, and race completion. Additionally, medical tent personnel from local hospitals and the Boston Public Health Commission will be notified of health emergencies via Everbridge-powered text messages. Find out more here.

CHICAGO. From the Notebook: City Official Appears on D.C. Panel. (Chicago Tribune)

By Katherine Skiba,

Dr. Julie Morita, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, will appear Tuesday on a panel on Capitol Hill to talk about funding for public health programs.

Morita on Monday said more federal money is needed to detect and respond to outbreaks of illnesses such as influenza, mumps, measles, whooping cough, meningitis and the Zika virus.

She worries that if insurance coverage for so-called essential health benefits is eliminated, fewer people will obtain vaccines and be screened for diseases such as breast and colon cancer. Such steps prevent disease or allow for early detection, Morita said.

A flyer for the panel discussion says just as with the nation’s roads and bridges, its public health infrastructure “remains antiquated and in need of modernization.”

Count her among opponents of a GOP effort in the Senate to dismantle Obamacare, which she said led to about 300,000 more Chicagoans obtaining health insurance. A recent study showed just over 9 percent of city residents are not insured, which she called a record low. 

The event is sponsored by the Congressional Public Health Caucus, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat.

Read more.

MIAMI. Public health officials prep for Zika (Naples Daily News)

By Liz Freeman

Deep funding cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would severely undermine response to a renewed Zika threat that’s expected as the summer mosquito season ramps up, a panel of public health officials said Wednesday.

The consequences of a $1.2 billion cut, which is one-eighth of the CDC’s entire budget, would trickle down to county health departments in Florida and Texas that were hard hit by Zika last summer.

The county agencies relied on federal support for laboratory testing and ground-level surveillance.

President Trump’s budget proposal also includes cutting $109 million to the public health emergency preparedness program and another $40 million to the epidemiology and laboratory capacity program, according to Laura Hanen, interim executive director and chief of government affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Hanen was part of a press briefing Wednesday about the status of Zika and how Trump’s proposed cuts would come on top of one-time Zika funding last year that expires shortly.

Congress allocated $1.1 billion for a Zika response in 2016.

There is no more money coming behind that unless Congress recommends a comprehensive approach,” she said.

What’s really needed is a permanent public health emergency fund so there isn’t a scramble to secure money to react each time there’s a public health threat, said Dr. Paul Jarris, chief medical officer with the March of Dimes.

“That is not how FEMA operates,” Jarris said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that responds to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Read more.

NATIONAL. ACA Repeal Would Mean Massive Cuts To Public Health, Leaving Cities And States At Risk

Chrissie Juliano

This blog originally appeared in Health Affairs on March 7, 2017

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed a little over six years ago, it brought with it the promise of health insurance for all Americans. It also sought to begin to shift the paradigm for health care in this country, emphasizing value over volume, and recognizing the importance of prevention coupled with appropriate access to care.

By now, it is well known that repealing the ACA could leave nearly 20 million Americans uninsured and simultaneously result in millions of job losses across the country. An associated cost that has been less discussed, but no less relevant, is what repeal could mean for the nation’s already-fragile governmental public health system. As the director of the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), a membership organization of 28 governmental public health departments in the largest, most urban areas of the country, I cannot underscore the importance of these funds enough.

Without a comparable replacement, or appropriation of additional funds, at least $3 billion will be cut from state and local public health departments alone over the next five years through funds allocated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An additional $2 billion in federal resources would be lost to a number of other prevention-oriented activities across the entire public health enterprise. This $5 billion is essential to core public health programs that keep Americans healthy and safe every day and makes up 12 percent of CDC’s annual budget, supporting disease tracking, access to immunizations for those most in need, and preventing and addressing lead poisoning, among other priorities.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund was designed to provide additional dollars to support the programs that prevent disease in communities across the country, including addressing many of the leading causes of death. These are the same conditions that drive our rising health care costs, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, and asthma. These conditions are so prevalent that they now touch almost every family in every community across the country.

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NATIONAL. Inside A Secret Government Warehouse Prepped For Health Catastrophes (National Public Radio)

June 27, 20164:56 AM ET

Heard on Morning Edition

When Greg Burel tells people he's in charge of some secret government warehouses, he often gets asked if they're like the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the Ark of the Covenant gets packed away in a crate and hidden forever.

"Well, no, not really," says Burel, director of a program called the Strategic National Stockpile at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thousands of lives might someday depend on this stockpile, which holds all kinds of medical supplies that the officials would need in the wake of a terrorist attack with a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon.

The location of these warehouses is secret. How many there are is secret. (Although a former government official recently said at a public meeting that there are six.) And exactly what's in them is secret.

"If everybody knows exactly what we have, then you know exactly what you can do to us that we can't fix," says Burel. "And we just don't want that to happen."

Read more. 

 

NATIONAL. Op-Ed: Get real about minimizing risk of future Zika and Ebola cases (Seattle Times)

Unreliable funding of public health agencies exposes communities unnecessarily to threats like the Zika virus. An always-prepared national public health system requires sustained support, not the same old political theater.

By David Fleming

Special to The Times

THE debate over how to respond to the Zika virus has produced some of the most dramatic political theater seen in Congress since the Ebola outbreak in 2014. It’s an edge-of-your seat drama, and Washington, D.C.,’s media brain trust knows it: a mysterious, life-threatening virus with tropical origins, high stakes for American families and a national leadership at war over how to deal with it.

The international medical community found that Zika causes microcephaly, a debilitating brain defect in fetuses that can prevent a child from ever walking or talking. While the U.S. Congress is making progress, it still has not adopted the emergency funding requested by the White House in February. Instead, the federal government just cut health departments’ emergency-preparedness budgets by 7 percent.

Read more.