Internet resources, CDC collaboration vital to Arizona Department of Health Services

With direct involvement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is able to stay fully equipped with the necessary means to effectively respond to biological outbreaks or threats.

"The state has many plans that are coordinated with local health departments and tribes, which address medical countermeasure plans," Teresa Ehnert, chief of the Bureau of Emergency Preparedness at ADHS, told BioPrepWatch. "These plans also go through a very in-depth review by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that processes are in place to receive, stage, store, dispense and distribute."

Ehnert, who has nearly 27 years of military experience and a master's degree in management, said one of the key elements of this system is the Strategic National Stockpile. Managed by the CDC, the national cache of medical supplies and equipment could restock local facilities that become overwhelmed in the event of an emergency with minimal response time. The CDC also funds the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response to better prepare ADHS for emergencies.

ADHS also relies on an extensive website with resources from its various offices to provide information to health care providers, local public health departments and the general public.

"The state health department website, the local county health departments and our federal partners all have resources online to assist citizens with personal preparedness," Ehnert said.

One of these resources is the department's Medical Electronic Disease Surveillance Intelligence System (MEDSIS). It allows schools, pharmacies, clinical labs and health care providers to report any information on communicable diseases directly to the local and state health departments.