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All-Hazards Preparedness in an Era of Bioterrorism Funding

Lovelace, Kay PhD, MPH; Bibeau, Daniel PhD; Gansneder, Bruce PhD; Hernandez, Erika MPH; Cline, J. Steven DDS, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September-October 2007 - Volume 13 - Issue 5 - p 465–468
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000285198.62049.1a
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Objectives All-hazards preparedness was evaluated in North Carolina's 85 local health departments (LHDs).

Methods In regional meetings, data were collected from LHD teams from North Carolina's LHDs using an instrument constructed from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's preparedness indicators and from the Local Public Health Preparedness and Response Capacity Inventory.

Results and Conclusions Levels of preparedness differ widely by disaster types. LHDs reported higher levels of preparedness for natural disasters, outbreaks, and bioterrorist events than for chemical, radiation, or mass trauma disasters. LHDs face challenges to achieving all-hazards preparedness since preparation for one type of disaster does not lead to preparedness for all types of disasters. LHDs in this survey were more prepared for disasters for which they were funded (bioterrorism) and for events they faced regularly (natural disasters, outbreaks) than they were for other types of disasters.

This article examines North Carolina's local health departments' preparedness for a range of public health disasters during an era of categorical funding for bioterrorism and looks at whether preparing for one type of disaster seemed to result in preparedness for other types of disasters. An interagency approach along with coordination with other organizations is needed for a comprehensive disaster response.

Kay Lovelace, PhD, MPH, is Associate Professor of Public Health Education, The University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Daniel Bibeau, PhD, is Associate Professor of Public Health Education, The University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Bruce Gansneder, PhD, is Professor of Leadership Foundations and Policy Studies, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Erika Hernandez, MPH, is Continuing Education Coordinator, Clinical Laboratories, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

J. Steven Cline, DDS, MPH, is Deputy State Health Director, North Carolina Division of Public Health, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Corresponding Author: Kay Lovelace, PhD, MPH, The University of North Carolina Greensboro, PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402 (klovelace@uncg.edu).

The work reported here was possible with the support of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, subcontract from the North Carolina Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response whose staff, particularly Dr James Kirkpatrick, Phil Benson, and Maribeth Wooten, contributed with conceptual issues, questionnaire design, feedback, and logistics. Public Health Regional Surveillance Team leaders arranged data collection meetings and gave feedback on the pilot questionnaire and preliminary results. We appreciate the feedback of Dr Lloyd Novick, Dr Elizabeth Tornquist, and two anonymous reviewers.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.