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Capitol Correspondence - 02.25.20

Trust for America’s Health Ranks States’ Emergency Preparedness. How Does Your State Compare?

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People with disabilities face greater challenges during emergencies, public disasters, and public health outbreaks in part because the infrastructure around them is not built to address their needs. As such, people with disabilities and the providers who support them need to stay informed of the broader emergency preparedness climate in their state to be able to plan effective emergency responses. To that effect, we are sharing this report by Trust for America’s Health on states’ emergency response performances – the link will show a chart of which states had top tier, middle tier and bottom tier ranking.

As written by Trust for America’s Health:

“Overall the report found that states’ level of preparedness has improved in key areas, including public health funding, participation in healthcare coalitions and compacts, hospital safety, and seasonal flu vaccination.  However, other key health security measures, including ensuring a safe water supply and access to paid time off, stalled or lost ground.

TFAH’s analysis found that:

  • A majority of states have plans in place to expand healthcare capacity in an emergency through programs such as the Nurse Licensure Compact or other healthcare coalitions. Thirty-two states participated in the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows licensed nurses to practice in multiple jurisdictions during an emergency.  Furthermore, 89 percent of hospitals nationally participated in a healthcare coalition, and 17 states and the District of Columbia have universal participation, meaning every hospital in the state (+ DC) participated in a coalition.  In addition, 48 states and DC had a plan to surge public health laboratory capacity during an emergency.
  • Most states are accredited in the areas of public health, emergency management, or both. Such accreditation helps ensure that necessary emergency prevention and response systems are in place and staffed by qualified personnel.
  • Most people who got their household water through a community water system had access to safe water. Based on 2018 data, on average, just 7 percent of state residents got their household water from a community water system that did not meet applicable health standards, up slightly from 6 percent in 2017.
  • Seasonal flu vaccination rates improved but are still too low. The seasonal flu vaccination rate among Americans ages 6 months and older rose from 42 percent during the 2017-2018 flu season to 49 percent during the 2018-2019 season, but vaccination rates are still well below the 70 percent target established by Healthy People 2020.
  • In 2019, only 55 percent of employed people had access to paid time off, the same percentage as in 2018. The absence of paid time off has been shown to exacerbate some infectious disease outbreaks. It can also prevent people from getting preventive care.
  • Only 30 percent of hospitals, on average, earned top patient safety grades, up slightly from 28 percent in 2018. Hospital safety scores measure performance on such issues as healthcare associated infection rates, intensive-care capacity and an overall culture of error prevention. Such measures are critical to patient safety during infectious disease outbreaks and are also a measure of a hospital’s ability to perform well during an emergency.”