Structure and Functions of State Public Health Agencies in 2007
ABSTRACT We sought to document the structure and functions of state public health agencies throughout the United States in 2007 and compare findings with those from a similar 2001 assessment. In 2007 a survey of the structure and functions of state public health agencies was sent to and completed by senior deputies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (a 100% response rate). The results of the survey showed that all emerging practice areas in 2001 had expanded by 2007. Also, state health departments generally had greater levels of responsibility in 2007 than they did in 2001, emphasizing the need for continued support of governmental public health systems and research on the operations of those systems.
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ABSTRACT: Background Public health surveillance and epidemiologic investigations are critical public health functions for identifying threats to the health of a community. Very little is known about how these functions are conducted at the local level. The purpose of the Epidemiology Networks in Action (EpiNet) Study was to describe the epidemiology and surveillance response to the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) by city and county health departments in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The study also documented lessons learned from the response in order to strengthen future public health preparedness and response planning efforts in the region. Methods In order to characterize the epidemiology and surveillance response, we conducted key informant interviews with public health professionals from twelve local health departments in the San Francisco Bay Area. In order to contextualize aspects of organizational response and performance, we recruited two types of key informants: public health professionals who were involved with the epidemiology and surveillance response for each jurisdiction, as well as the health officer or his/her designee responsible for H1N1 response activities. Information about the organization, data sources for situation awareness, decision-making, and issues related to surge capacity, continuity of operations, and sustainability were collected during the key informant interviews. Content and interpretive analyses were conducted using ATLAS.ti software. Results The study found that disease investigations were important in the first months of the pandemic, often requiring additional staff support and sometimes forcing other public health activities to be put on hold. We also found that while the Incident Command System (ICS) was used by all participating agencies to manage the response, the manner in which it was implemented and utilized varied. Each local health department (LHD) in the study collected epidemiologic data from a variety of sources, but only case reports (including hospitalized and fatal cases) and laboratory testing data were used by all organizations. While almost every LHD attempted to collect school absenteeism data, many respondents reported problems in collecting and analyzing these data. Laboratory capacity to test influenza specimens often aided an LHD’s ability to conduct disease investigations and implement control measures, but the ability to test specimens varied across the region and even well-equipped laboratories exceeded their capacity. As a whole, the health jurisdictions in the region communicated regularly about key decision-making (continued on next page) (continued from previous page) related to the response, and prior regional collaboration on pandemic influenza planning helped to prepare the region for the novel H1N1 influenza pandemic. The study did find, however, that many respondents (including the majority of epidemiologists interviewed) desired an increase in regional communication about epidemiology and surveillance issues. Conclusion The study collected information about the epidemiology and surveillance response among LHDs in the San Francisco Bay Area that has implications for public health preparedness and emergency response training, public health best practices, regional public health collaboration, and a perceived need for information sharing.BMC Public Health 03/2013; 13(1):276. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-13-276 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was enacted by the US Congress in 2010, marks the greatest change in US health policy since the 1960s. The law is intended to address fundamental problems within the US health system, including the high and rising cost of care, inadequate access to health insurance and health services for many Americans, and low health-care efficiency and quality. By 2019, the law will bring health coverage-and the health benefits of insurance-to an estimated 25 million more Americans. It has already restrained discriminatory insurance practices, made coverage more affordable, and realised new provisions to curb costs (including tests of new health-care delivery models). The new law establishes the first National Prevention Strategy, adds substantial new funding for prevention and public health programmes, and promotes the use of recommended clinical preventive services and other measures, and thus represents a major opportunity for prevention and public health. The law also provides impetus for greater collaboration between the US health-care and public health systems, which have traditionally operated separately with little interaction. Taken together, the various effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can advance the health of the US population.The Lancet 06/2014; DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60259-2 · 39.21 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: : Public health practitioners and researchers often refer to state public health systems as being centralized, decentralized, shared, or mixed. These categories refer to governance of the local public health units within the state and whether they operate under the authority of the state government, local government, shared state and local governance, or a mix of governance structures within the state. : This article describes the development of an objective method of classifying states as centralized, decentralized, shared, or mixed. We also discuss some initial analyses that have been conducted to identify how public health resources and activities vary across states with different classifications. : Cross-sectional study. : State health agencies. : Survey respondents were organizational leaders from all 50 state health agencies. : Total full-time equivalent employees, total health agency expenditures, expenditures on clinical services, and provision of clinical services. : Centralized state health agencies employ more full-time equivalent employees, have higher total expenditures, and provide more clinical services than decentralized state health agencies. Although higher expenditures on clinical services were observed, these differences were not statistically significant. : It is important to take governance classification into account when investigating variation in services, resources, or performance of governmental public health systems. As public health systems and services researchers seek to identify best practices in the organization of public health systems, consistent definition of different types of organization is critical. This system provides an objective and reliable system for classifying governance relationships that allows for comparisons that are meaningful to both practitioners and researchers.Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP 11/2012; 18(6):520-8. DOI:10.1097/PHH.0b013e31825ce90b · 1.47 Impact Factor