The health of a community depends on many factors, including the health protection and promotion activities of local government agencies, not-for-profit agencies and private sector organizations. Involving citizens in making decision on matters that affect their health has been long supported by public health.
Planning is best done by those individuals who will be the recipients of, or will be affected by, the resulting programs, policies, or services. Efforts to get people to change their lifestyle behaviors, their work sites, or their schools, will be most successful if those asked to make such changes are included in the planning process. The facilitator of the health planning process is often a public health professional and has been given the exciting role of bringing the public health system together in a united front to improve the health of their communities.
The events of 9/11 coupled with subsequent acts of terrorism led the federal government to realize that our public health infrastructure was not prepared to respond to the evolving threats facing the nation. Since the fall of 2002 local health departments have been receiving federal grant money to build public health preparedness and epidemiology capacity. The preparedness program is comprised of Epidemiologists, Training Coordinators, Preparedness Coordinators and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Coordinators. These individuals work diligently to build relationships across agency lines and collaborate with local, regional and statewide community partners, increasing Kentucky’s level of preparedness and building the resiliency of our great Commonwealth. This is done through the development and implementation of all hazards plans; exercising (or testing) the functionality of those plans and revising as necessary. Preparedness staff is continuously training on various topics related to disaster preparedness and the public health response. They actively train community partners and first responders as well as other health department staff on related topics. Because disasters have the potential to be rather taxing and often require numerous staff, MRC Coordinators work to increase surge capacity by identifying, credentialing and training both medical and non-medical volunteers that may augment the public health and medical staff responding to a disaster if needed. Through the Community Health Planning and Preparedness Section of KPHA, we hope to keep you updated on current preparedness issues and provide you with quality.