Budget cuts at federal, state and local levels are threatening the country's ability to respond to public health emergencies at basic levels, says a report from Trust for America's Health and funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Budget cuts seen threatening emergency preparedness
The 52-page report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, said that recent emergency preparedness gains are being threatened by the funding cuts, which are creating a public health workforce shortage and a surge capacity gap, among other problems. “Surge capacity, the ability of the medical system to care for a massive influx of patients, remains one of the most serious challenges for emergency preparedness,” according to the report. “There are numerous ongoing surge capacity issues in healthcare settings beyond just hospitals, including response, crisis care standards, alternative care sites, coordinating volunteers to help, adequate liability protection for volunteers and clinicians, and regional coordination,” the report authors note.
On a state-by-state basis, three states satisfied all 10 of the indicators of preparedness used by the report authors: Arkansas, North Dakota and Washington. The indicators concerned such matters as funding, electronic health-record capabilities and ability to convene an emergency response team quickly. Iowa and Montana performed the worst and met only five of the indicators.
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