Oklahoma scores six of 10 on public health emergency preparedness
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2012
12/20/12 at 3:14 AM
Oklahoma scored six out of 10 in indicators that the state is prepared for a public health emergency in a report released Wednesday.
It was among 35 states to score six or lower in the Trust for America's Health Report titled "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Disease, Disasters and Bioterrorism."
It measured each state's ability to respond to public health emergencies such as severe weather events such as superstorm Sandy and disease outbreaks such as West Nile virus.
"We have found that there are continued and persistent gaps in the country's ability to respond to public health emergencies," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, said in a conference call with reporters.
The state was lauded for increasing funding for public health programs, having enough staff capacity in public labs and having the ability to notify and immediately assemble public health staff, among other factors.
Oklahoma did not meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services goal of vaccinating 90 percent of 19- to 35-month-olds against whooping cough.
It also doesn't require Medicaid to cover flu shots with no co-pay for people younger than 65, doesn't have a complete climate change adoption plan and does not participate in a nurse licensure compact that allows nurses to practice across state lines.
Scott Sproat, service chief for emergency preparedness and response with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said some efforts are under way in Oklahoma to meet these standards.
"Preparation is always an ongoing effort," he said. "We're constantly working to build our resources and learn from past responses."
Oklahoma is at about 84 percent in vaccinating children ages 19 to 35 months against whooping cough and is working to increase that number, he said.
The Oklahoma Climatological Survey has worked with emergency preparedness employees on plans for severe weather events and the governor has authority under the Oklahoma Emergency Response Act to recognize licenses of health professionals from other states, he said.
Original Print Headline: State hits six of 10 goals on preparedness
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378