State of Kansas officials Thursday refuted a Trust for America's Health report issued Wednesday for its inaccurate assessment of the state's emergency preparedness.
"The report does not provide an accurate and thorough picture of the state's readiness to respond to health emergencies, disasters or terrorism," said Governor Sam Brownback. "Kansas is no stranger to disasters and in recent years has responded to health emergencies including H1N1 pandemic and other disease outbreaks as well as tornados, floods, snow storms, and ice storms."
The Trust for America's Health report ranked states in 10 areas of preparedness, including vaccination rates for whooping cough, a climate change adaptation plan, a nurse licensure compact and a voluntary state accreditation program.
"This scorecard's criteria are chosen by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the foundation changes the criteria, or indicators, each year it has published its report. Since 2006, Kansas' score in the Trust for America's Health report has fluctuated, even scoring 9 out of 10 one year. No matter the score, the report presents a skewed view of public health readiness, draws inaccurate conclusions and in no way indicates the actual preparedness level in Kansas," said Robert Moser, M.D., Secretary and State Health Officer of Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
"Kansas has proven its ability to respond to emergencies many, many times including the deadly Harveyville tornado earlier this year, Missouri River flooding in northeast Kansas last year, and many deadly winter storms and tornados over the past several years," said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas Adjutant General and director of Emergency Management.
The Trust for America's Health Report judged states on the following:
1) Whether the state maintained or increased funding for public health programs in FY 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. Federal entities determine the amount of funding which will be provided to Kansas, often based on population, which means Kansas receives less than other states.
2) Whether the state could notify and assemble public health staff to ensure a quick response: The report recognized Kansas has this capability.
3) Whether the state is vaccinating 90% of 19 to 35 month olds for whooping cough: Kansas achieved an 87.6 % rating, just 2.4% below the report's recommendations.
4) Whether the state requires Medicaid to cover flu shots with no co-pay for those under 65:
The report recognized Kansas requires this.
5.) Whether the state has a climate change adaptation plan: Kansas uses an all hazards approach to emergencies, rather than having a specific plan for every risk. This is a flexible and effective approach which focuses on responding to the consequences of any hazard. Kansas also has a State Hazard Mitigation Plan which provides a thorough examination of the risks in Kansas and proposed actions to reduce those risks. Kansas counties have similar mitigation plans.
6.) Whether the state mandates all licensed child-care facilities to have a multi-hazard written evacuation and relocation plan:
Kansas regulations do require licensed child care centers to have an emergency plan, but do not require relocation plans specifically.
7.) Whether the state is accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program:
Kansas Division of Emergency Management applied for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program this year and full accreditation is expected in 2013. In a preliminary EMAP assessment on Dec. 14, 2012, the state successfully completed 101 of 104 requirements. EMAP accreditation is a voluntary, non-government process and not required to successfully perform an emergency management program.
8.) Whether the state participates in a nurse licensure compact: The Kansas System for Early Registration of Volunteers provides the state with a contingent of nurses for an emergency.
9.) Whether the state public health laboratory has enough staffing capacity for five, 12-hour days for 6 to 8 weeks in response to an infectious disease outbreak: While the laboratory does not have the staff to do this, the state would mobilize resources to assist in the event of an extended disease outbreak.
10.) Whether the state public health laboratory has increased or maintained its Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats capability from August 2011 to August 2012:
The report recognized Kansas did this.
"Kansas emergency preparedness involves numerous state agencies including Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Department of Transportation and many others depending on the emergency," noted Brownback. "Counties and cities, as well as individuals, play a significant role in our state's overall preparedness and Kansans have frequently proven to be self-sufficient and resilient in times of disaster."
"We always invite reasonable and rational critique of our emergency preparedness programs and are constantly looking for best practices for improving Kansas preparedness," said Tafanelli.