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Oklahoma ranks among rest of states in level of public health preparedness, report says

Trust for America's Health released a report Wednesday that ranked states on their level of public health preparedness, meaning their ability to respond to a health-related crisis. Oklahoma, like many states, ranked a six out of 10.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 20, 2012

Of the 10 indicators used in the report, Oklahoma was counted off for not being a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows registered nurses and licensed practical or vocational nurses to have a single multistate license to practice in other compact states; not meeting the U.S. Health and Human Services' goal of vaccinating 90 percent of 19- to 35-month-olds against whooping cough; not requiring Medicaid coverage of flu shots with no copay for beneficiaries younger than 65; and lacking a complete climate change adaptation plan.

The state received its six points because of the state's ability to assemble public health staff quickly in case of emergency; its mandate that child care facilities must have a written evacuation and relocation plan; increased or maintained level of funding for public health services from the 2010-11 to 2011-12 fiscal years; the state's accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program; and two points related to the state public health lab's ability to respond in crisis.

The Oklahoma Health Department has a plan for emergency response for several public health crises, including pandemic, catastrophic health events and bioterrorism, said Scott Sproat, chief of the emergency preparedness and response service at the Heath Department.

And it's hard to measure, using only 10 indicators, how prepared the state is for any of those crises, Sproat said.

The report is fair, but at the same time, isn't designed as a comprehensive look at a state's level of preparedness, he said.

It does allow people, though, to see the complexity and the context of public health preparedness, Sproat said.

“Not only the resources and the systems the Health Department has put in place, but also that public health preparedness, starts with the individuals and making sure that we're availing ourselves and our families of vaccinations and really doing those things to prepare ourselves,” he said.

“That's really the foundation of preparedness is individual preparedness,” he said.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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