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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 28, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater

DHSS to Test Statewide Network of Biological Laboratories


New Jersey will be holding a week-long exercise to test the abilities of state and sentinel laboratories responsible for detecting bioterrorism agents. Starting Sunday, July 30, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will conduct Project SCOPE (Sentinel Communication and Operational Preparedness Exercise), the first exercise of its type held in New Jersey.


The DHSS Public Health and Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) coordinate the network of sentinel clinical laboratories in New Jersey.  Sentinel clinical laboratories are licensed to perform comprehensive microbiological testing.  They are charged with the rapid detection of agents suspected of causing a potential public health emergency.


“The ability of our state and sentinel laboratories to quickly detect and identify a biological agent used in a terrorist attack or an emerging infectious disease will often determine the effectiveness of our response,” said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D.  “This full-scale exercise will help us test the effectiveness of our laboratory network procedures. In the end, it will make us better prepared.”


The exercise will test the state’s laboratory capabilities to detect and identify bioterrorism agents, its internal and external communications capabilities, and procedures in reporting, referring and confirming a suspected bioterrorism agent.  Safety and containment plans will also be evaluated through each step of the exercise.


Also participating will be employees from the Department’s Public Health Laboratory Services and Communicable Disease Service, along with hospital laboratories representing five regions in New Jersey: AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City; Barnert Hospital in Paterson; Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton; and RWJUH New Brunswick.


The drill was designed by the DHSS PHEL in collaboration with the DHSS Division of Health Infrastructure Preparedness and Emergency Response, with funding from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).



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