246992 Northern Illinois H1N1 After-Action Report: A Case for Enhanced Regionalization

Monday, October 31, 2011

Heather Drummond, MPH , School of Public Health; Community Health Sciences Division, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Issues: The 2009 H1N1 pandemic severely challenged the response capacities of several regional health departments, and prompted a formal review of response strategies to document success and challenges in an effort to improve the regional public health response capabilities. Description: An H1N1 work group established to conduct the review identified eleven key issues, including inconsistent guidelines regarding school closure criteria and vaccination eligibility, gaps in the collection of essential data, uncertainty in the use of standing orders, and potentially confusing relationships with the media and public communication across the region. Lessons Learned: H1N1 challenged the region's capacity to sustain an intensive response to a public health emergency while maintaining routine responsibilities, at a time when resources were under severe strain due to an economic recession. Strategies were highly responsive to local needs, but at a greater cost to individual health departments than if a more coordinated regional approach had been taken, which drew more effectively on shared resources and regional capacities. Recommendations: Recommendations include standardizing the collection of data by establishing a minimum set of epidemiological information. A more formal forum for sharing best practices should be developed, as well as a regional media presence that includes the pre-sharing of response strategies. Additional guidance should be requested from state agencies regarding the training and credentialing of supplemental health professionals. A first step is the promotion of a regional health monitoring system that would provide aggregate data profiles and easily identify disease outbreaks to more efficiently mobilize emergency response strategies.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the unique challenges identified during the 2009-2010 H1N1 emergency response on a local and regional level. 2. Identify the complexities and benefits of developing a comprehensive emergency preparedness and response on the regional level. 3. Formulate strategies for regionalizing emergency preparedness and response in various jurisdictions by leveraging individual health department strengths.

Keywords: Emergency, Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the data analysis and prepared the recommendations submitted.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.