January 28, 2009 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that it has submitted its annual report on public health preparedness to Governor M. Jodi Rell and the Connecticut General Assembly, highlighting the department’s efforts and progress over the year in preparing the state for a public health emergency.
The report, required by Connecticut General Statutes, Section 19a-131g, was submitted by DPH, in conjunction with the Public Health Preparedness Advisory Committee, and provides the status of public health emergency preparedness planning in Connecticut. Highlights of the report include surveillance activities to detect possible bioterrorism events and outbreaks, improvements in influenza testing by the DPH State Laboratory, submission of the State’s Pandemic Influenza Operational Plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the drilling, exercising, and evaluation of preparedness plans statewide.
“Connecticut continues to develop innovative and effective ways to prepare our residents for a public health emergency,” stated DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, MD, MPH, MBA. “The state of Connecticut is dedicated to keeping the people of Connecticut as safe as possible in a public health or medical emergency.”
“The Department of Public Health has been working with local, regional, and state partners, including local health departments and hospitals, to respond to a public health or medical emergency,” said Dr. Galvin. “Through planning and exercising, we are improving our response in such an event to protect the health and safety of the people of Connecticut.”
Fifty-five Connecticut state agencies have submitted continuity of operations plans to ensure that in the event of an emergency, including an influenza pandemic, they will be able to continue functioning and providing services to the people of Connecticut. The plans were exercised in February 2007 to identify strengths and weaknesses.
A report submitted to the Homeland Security Council last week by the United States Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security identified Connecticut as rating in the highest tier for operational preparedness in the event of an influenza pandemic. The report is a result of an evaluation of all pandemic preparedness and continuity of operations plans submitted by states to the federal Department of Health and Human Services last July. The report also identified gaps in planning which the various state agencies involved in the planning are working to fill.
“Preparing for a pandemic is a huge endeavor,” stated Dr. Galvin. “We have come a long way but our work is not done. We are looking forward to working with the new administration and filling the remaining gaps in our state plans.”
The DPH is the lead administrative and planning agency for public health initiatives, including public health emergency preparedness and response. Public health emergency planning is an integral part of overall emergency preparedness and response in Connecticut.
The Public Health Preparedness Advisory Committee (formerly called the Advisory Committee on Bioterrorism Preparedness) was originally created by DPH in July 2002 to review and advise DPH on cooperative agreement activities. The committee contains over sixty representatives from government (state, local, and tribal), private, and nonprofit organizations related to preparedness. The committee includes representation from local health districts, hospitals and other types of health facilities, emergency medical service providers, and fourteen state agencies as well as eighteen legislators.
During his administration, President George W. Bush established the Homeland Security Council (HSC) on October 8, 2001. The HSC’s purpose is to ensure coordination of all homeland security -related activities among executive departments and agencies, and to promote the effective development and implementation of all homeland security policies.
For additional information on public health preparedness, please visit the DPH website at www.ct.gov/dph and select “Public Health Preparedness and Response” or call (860) 509-8100. The “Annual Report on Public Health Preparedness” can be found online on the DPH website at www.ct.gov/dph. Click on “Programs and Services,” then select “Government Relations, Office of,” and “Mandated Reports.” To view the report to the Homeland Security Council online, please go to http://pandemicflu.gov/plan/states/state_assessment.html.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.