TRENTON – The Department of Health and Senior Services will further enhance New Jersey’s health emergency preparedness and response capabilities with an additional $40.9 million in federal funding, Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. said today.
This federal funding, coupled with $12.5 million Governor James E. McGreevey provided in state funds for the department’s terrorism preparedness efforts, will support ongoing efforts to upgrade hospital, state, and local preparedness and response for any public health emergency.
The money will be used to hire public health nurses, purchase stockpile supplies and pharmaceuticals, pay for chemical detection equipment and decontamination units, expand the state laboratory’s testing capacity, and conduct training exercises and education programs for hospitals, public health professionals, county health departments and emergency responders.
“A coordinated, comprehensive response plan is critical to homeland security,” said Governor James E. McGreevey. “The federal funding will help us make New Jersey safer.”
The funding includes $27 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for continuing efforts to improve the state’s public health system and $13.8 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration to advance the emergency preparedness of hospitals, health centers and nursing homes.
“This additional funding supports our preparedness goals to protect the lives and health of New Jerseyans by preventing or minimizing harm from intentional and naturally occurring health threats,’’ said Dr. Lacy. “The improved surveillance means earlier detection. More rapid identification means more timely containment. Greater statewide coordination means more effective response.’’
The new funding from the CDC will be used to sustain the initiatives developed this past year for preparedness planning and readiness assessment, surveillance and epidemiology, laboratory capacity for handling biological agents, information technology including the Health Alert Network, communicating health risks and disseminating health information, and education and training.
The HRSA funds will advance New Jersey’s hospital bioterrorism preparedness by enabling the coordination of efforts of hospitals and other health care facilities in managing potential epidemics or intentional disease outbreaks on a regional level.
The $40.9 million this year follows $27.2 million in federal funding awarded a year ago. In Fiscal Year 03, New Jersey received $23.7 million from the CDC and $3.5 million from HRSA.
Specifically, the new funding will be used to:
- Continue to fund 22 Local Information Network and Communications System (LINCS) agencies, which are the state’s lead public health organizations, and continue funding public health positions including epidemiologists, health educators, risk communicators, information specialists and state-employed emergency planners/coordinators.
- Add to each of the 22 LINCS teams a public health nurse and a community coordinator to engage and coordinate local public health services, health care programs and corporate assets in a region.
- Increase the state’s ability to handle potentially large numbers of mass casualties through the formation of regional medical coordination centers and mobile burn care services.
- Conduct and participate in training exercises throughout the state in coordination with the Domestic Security Preparedness Planning Group, the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and other public-health and health-care related partners to continuously test and examine our readiness and make necessary improvements.
- Expand the capacity of New Jersey’s Public Health Laboratory to test for biological and chemical agents of terrorism with a focus on food and water biosafety.
- Develop a statewide communications plan to disseminate public health information to the general public on important topics and targeted groups such as non-English speaking populations.
- Continue to develop education and training programs for a wide range of public health professionals including emergency responders, emergency medical services, police, fire and emergency physicians and nurses.
- Buy equipment, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies to give the state an independent stockpile for the first crucial hours of a public health emergency.
- Purchase chemical and radiological detection equipment for use at trauma centers in support of decontamination efforts and for training.
- Enhance the secure, web-based Communicable Disease Reporting System for real time and thorough reporting of specific diseases from laboratories, hospitals and physicians.