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New Orleans and Central Louisiana Regions Earn Top Marks for Public Health Disaster Preparedness

Louisiana one of 26 states with local health departments honored for emergency readiness

Friday, February 1, 2013  |  Contact: Media & Communications: Phone: 225.342.1532, E-mail: dhhinfo@la.gov

Baton Rouge-The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has awarded the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health Region 1 (Greater New Orleans Area) and Region 6 (Central Louisiana) with Project Public Health Ready recognition, honoring their preparedness to respond in a public health emergency.

"In the past several years, Louisiana has experienced several public health emergencies, including hurricanes, the oil spill and seasonal flu outbreaks, all of which required our response. We know how important it is to always be prepared for any event and be able to respond, working in coordination with local partners," said Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane. "This recognition is an important milestone in our preparedness efforts, and I commend our management team and New Orleans and Central Louisiana regional leadership for their hard work to make sure our State is better equipped to respond and protect the public's health."   

Project Public Health Ready is a unique partnership between NACCHO and the CDC to assess local health departments and their community response partners' capacity to plan for, respond to and recover from public health emergencies.

To receive Project Public Health Ready recognition, local health departments undergo a rigorous evaluation by peer review to determine if they meet a set of national standards for public health preparedness in three key areas: preparedness planning, workforce competency and demonstration of all-hazards readiness through exercises or a response to a real event.

With this recognition, DHH Office of Public Health Regions 1 and 6 are among 300 local health departments in 26 states across the country NACCHO has distinguished for preparedness efforts with Project Public Health Ready recognition. The recognition means these regions of the State have a thorough and coordinated emergency response plan in place, agency staff members are trained in preparedness procedures and the region frequently tests and evaluates the plan, and uses it during public health emergencies. Due to the nature and amount of work involved, the Office of Public Health is working on recognition of two regions at a time, so other regions will begin work on PPHR recognition soon.

"Our public health staff train year-round to make sure we are always prepared to respond in an emergency, and we've gotten to demonstrate our readiness during real events, most recently in assisting with the response to Hurricane Isaac," said DHH Office of Public Health Region 6 Medical Director Dr. David Holcombe. "We are honored to be recognized through Project Public Health Ready, and we will continue our work to ensure we are able and ready to respond to events in the CenLa area."

"Region 1 is thrilled to be recognized for our ability to respond to public health emergencies. Our Office of Public Health team for the Greater New Orleans Area is an example of leadership in the State in the way they have continually worked together to address challenges in our community," said Dr. Takeisha Davis, Office of Public Health Medical Director and Region 1 Acting Medical Director.  "Ensuring that we can keep residents, visitors and tourists in our area safe remains our top priority."

DHH's Center for Community Preparedness began the process to receive Project Public Health Ready recognition with Region 1 and Region 6 in August 2011, and was notified Jan. 14, 2013, that they had received the recognition. The other seven DHH Office of Public Health regions will begin the process to receive Project Public Health Ready recognition this year.

"Congratulations to our staff and response partners for this high achievement, which benefits all the residents and visitors of our State," said Doris Brown, DHH Center for Community Preparedness Director.

"All disasters strike locally, and local health departments are a critical part of any community's first response to disease outbreaks, emergencies, and acts of terrorism," said Robert Pestronk, NACCHO Executive Director. "NACCHO commends Louisiana Office of Public Health Region 1 and Region 6 for being models of public health emergency preparedness."

For more information on Project Public Health Ready, including recognized sites, project tools, and resources, visit http://www.naccho.org/PPHR .

About NACCHO

The mission of the National Association of County and City Health Officials is to be a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for local health departments in order to ensure the conditions that promote health and equity, combat disease, and improve the quality and length of all lives.