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Assessing Regional Public Health Preparedness: A New Tool for Considering CrossBorder Issues

Jones, Maggie MPH; O'Carroll, Patrick MD, MPH; Thompson, Jack MSW; D'Ambrosio, Luann MEd

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: September/October 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 5 - p E15–E22
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000333891.06259.44
Article

Objective: To provide regional, state, and local public health officials a conceptual framework and checklist for assessing regional public health emergency preparedness, specifically in regard to cross-border public health preparedness needs.

Methods: The project had four phases that are as follows: defining the scope, conducting a literature review, soliciting expert opinion, and creating the assessment framework and checklist. A conceptual framework was developed to define the scope of the project on the basis of the kinds of resources likely to be shared across borders in a public health response (eg, data, supplies, staff), in support of the public health functions likely to be important in a health emergency (eg, epidemiology, laboratory). A literature review was then conducted to identify key articles and tools addressing regional preparedness. Key informant interviews (n = 23) were conducted with public health and emergency management professionals in the Pacific Northwest to identify a set of systems, agreements, and protocols that should be systematically considered in assessing regional public health preparedness. Using the literature review and themes from interviews, a checklist was developed.

Results: A checklist was developed for use by public health leaders, which recommends 24 specific agreements, protocols, systems, and management structures that should be considered to foster cross-border public health preparedness.

Conclusions: Regional public health preparedness represents not only the sum of state-level preparedness of the states in a region but also the capacity of those states to collaborate across state and international borders during a public health emergency. This checklist provides a tool to systematically consider cross-border preparedness issues.

This study aims to provide regional, state, and local public health officials a conceptual framework and checklist for assessing regional public health emergency preparedness, specifically in regard to cross-border public health preparedness needs.

Maggie Jones, MPH, is Program Manager, Center for Community Health and Evaluation, Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, Washington.

Patrick O'Carroll, MD, MPH, is Regional Health Administrator, Region X, RADM, USPHS Commissioned Corps, Seattle, Washington.

Jack Thompson, MSW, is Director, Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, and is Senior Lecturer, Department of Health Services, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Luann D'Ambrosio, MEd, is Assistant Director, Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Corresponding Author: Maggie Jones, MPH, Center for Community Health and Evaluation, Group Health Center for Health Studies, 1730 Minor Ave, Suite 1600, Seattle, WA 98101 (jones.margaret@ghc.org).

The authors thank all of our key informants who generously gave their time and expertise to this project and to the public health directors in the USPHS Region X States who provided overall guidance for this project, namely, Dr Susan Allan, formerly Public Health Director of the Oregon Department of Human Services; Dr Dick Mandsager, formerly Director of the Alaska Division of Public Health; Mr Dick Schultz, Administrator of the Division of Health of the Idaho Department of Health; and Ms Mary Selecky, Washington State Secretary of Health. Special thanks also to Captain Andrew Stevermer, Regional Emergency Coordinator, USPHS Region X, and to Mr Wayne Dauphinee, formerly Executive Director of the Emergency Management Branch of the Ministry of Health, British Columbia, Canada.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.