SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Illinois will receive nearly $20 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to further enhance state and local preparedness for public health emergencies. The CDC recently notified the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) that the Department will receive $19.9 million, as part of a $705 million package that is being awarded nationwide to public health departments in states and territories, as well as in four major metropolitan areas. The City of Chicago will also receive $11.4 million as part of this package.
“During public health emergencies, the people of Illinois turn to state and local health departments to safeguard their health and also to get needed medical supplies to them quickly,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “That is made possible through comprehensive planning and preparedness efforts, like those the Illinois Department of Public Health has implemented throughout the state. This grant is an important step in supporting these essential preparedness programs.”
IDPH will direct part of the grant money to local health departments throughout the state to support their emergency preparedness activities, such as planning and exercises. In addition, the grant will help fund many of the state’s preparedness efforts, including IDPH’s laboratory, infectious diseases program, information technology program, and emergency preparedness staff members who work closely with local health departments on preparedness issues.
In addition, the grant will partially support the Illinois-National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (I-NEDSS), a web-based, real-time communication system linking hospitals, laboratories and other health care providers with the state and all 95 local health departments. The system involves reporting and managing communicable disease information, and the Health Alert Network (HAN), which is utilized to rapidly distribute health-related information to local health departments, hospitals, emergency medical services, and other health and medical providers throughout the state.
IDPH will also provide funding from the grant to churches and community groups involved in the Illinois Faith-Based Emergency Preparedness Initiative, an innovative program unveiled by Gov. Blagojevich, last year. The initiative enhances personal preparedness for emergencies by providing African-American and Latino churches statewide with the resources and training necessary to disseminate emergency preparedness information and resources to communities across the state.
“Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Blagojevich has made public health a top priority, particularly in respect to the public health emergency preparedness and response program,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “That support has enabled us to develop a comprehensive, nationally-recognized program that enables us to quickly and effectively respond to public health emergencies in Illinois.”
In November 2007, following an in-depth assessment, the CDC gave high marks to Illinois’ Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) plan to distribute necessary medications and medical supplies during an emergency. Illinois was one of only seven states in the nation to receive a perfect score for the state’s Emergency Health and Medical Preparedness Planning, from the Trust for America’s Health Annual Survey in December 2007.
Gov. Blagojevich has made state preparedness one of his top priorities and has taken decisive leadership through actions, including:
Health Department Exercises: The Illinois Department of Public Health, working in cooperation with local health departments, annually exercise SNS dispending plans, which assures all residents of the county, and therefore the state, will receive needed medications.
Tabletop Exercises: The Illinois Department of Public Health coordinated with local health departments to conduct 14 tabletop exercises on pandemic influenza in 2006, designed to document specific action steps and resources needed to improve preparedness efforts in the state. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Board of Education were among the agencies participating in tabletop exercises, along with local health departments, hospitals and other health care organizations.
FLUEX 2006: An ambitious three-day exercise held in May 2006 tested the state’s preparedness for handling a major health crisis and simultaneous terrorist attacks. More than 50 representatives from state and federal agencies and the American Red Cross reported to the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) within the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield, to participate in the exercise.
Prairie Thunder Exercise: The state conducted a major five-day emergency response exercise in the Metro East area in August 2006 to test the state’s ability to respond to large-scale emergencies, which included a mass evacuation and sheltering component. The exercise brought federal, state and local response organizations together in a coordinated response to multiple emergency scenarios that included intelligence gathering and response to simulated terrorist attacks, distribution of materials from the Strategic National Stockpile, victim search and rescue efforts, and establishment of a field hospital for treating “victims.”
SNS Presentation: In February 2007 the Illinois SNS team presented at the Local, State and Federal Public Health Preparedness Summit in Washington, D.C. Illinois’ SNS team, selected from more than 300 submissions from public health officials nationwide, will provide insight on the state’s coordinated preparedness efforts in a presentation entitled, “The Amazing SNS Race: Collaboration Between State Agencies to Get to the Finish.” Illinois was selected to highlight its efforts, due to the fact the state has achieved the highest ranking during the past three years for its plan to use local health departments to dispense medications and supplies.