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Louisiana Residents Are In Danger

Louisiana Residents Are In Danger

July 07
17:44 2017

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(Nola) – Louisiana is the least prepared state in the country for handling public health emergencies, according to the 2016 National Health Security Preparedness Index. The index, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and now led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that Louisiana scored a 5.6 on a 10-point scale for preparedness, below the U.S. average of 6.7.

The state’s 2016 ranking represents a decline in health security and preparedness since the index was created in 2013. In the Health Care Delivery category, which measures the state of health care systems in both everyday life and emergency situations, Louisiana scored 3.1, compared to 3.4 in 2013.

In the Environmental and Occupational Health category, which measures the state’s ability to prevent adverse health impacts from environmental and occupational hazards, Louisiana scored 5.1, a drop from 5.3 in 2013.

The state showed no improvement over the past three years in three separate categories, including Health Security Surveillance, Community Planning and Engagement, and Countermeasure Management, which examines each state’s capacity to prevent or reduce harm from biologic, chemical or nuclear agents.

There was some cause for optimism, however, in Louisiana’s ability to mobilize and manage resources during a health incident, defined as Incident and Information Management. Here the state showed a marked improvement, scoring 7.6 compared to 7.1 in 2013.

Researchers created the rankings by gathering data from experts in the fields of public health, emergency management, government, academia and health care, among other sectors. The index also relies on feedback from state preparedness directors and state health officials.

Glen Mays, a professor of health policy at the University of Kentucky who lead the national program office for the index, said Louisiana’s bottom-rung position in the rankings could be partly accounted by faster improvements in other parts of the country. Overall, the country improved its preparedness by 3.6 percent since 2013.

Mays attributed the drop in Health Care Delivery to reductions in the state’s health care infrastructure and workforce. “The number of trauma centers within 100 miles, the number of emergency medical technicians per 100,000 people – factors like these have fallen over time in Louisiana,” Mays said.

Mays also noted that nursing home staff levels, which predict a facility’s ability to maintain health care in an emergency situation, have dropped in recent years in the state. The staffing shortage may have led to an uptick in hospitalizations of nursing home residents, Mays said.

Louisiana was just one of five states in the Deep South to post a substandard score in health security and preparedness. Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia all scored significantly below the national average. States across the Northwest, including Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, showed similar results.

“There are clusters of states that are better or less prepared than others,” Mays said. “It shows us that health care protections are not evenly distributed across the U.S., and tells us where we need to focus our efforts.”



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