Understanding Local Public Health Preparedness for Collaborative Efforts with Healthcare Facilities in Central Region

Volume 1. Issue 4 – July 23, 2019
Written by: Erin M. Nowlin, MSN, RN, CEN, CHEC

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is a nation-wide association of Local Health Officials and Department Leaders. In our Commonwealth, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has 35 local health districts. (Pictured below) Each of these districts has an assigned representative to NACCHO for their jurisdiction. (You can find listed contact information on your district’s VDH Emergency Coordinator. District Director is at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/.

These County and City Health Officials often integrate with local Emergency Managers, facilities, special populations, government agencies, community stakeholders, and healthcare coalitions such as ours to improve public health in their community. We are lucky in Central Region to have a dedicated and highly engaged number of locality public health officials and coordinators with whom we work closely through CVHC. These relationships become important in planning, responding, and recovering from events and incidents almost daily for Central Region, and often inside of your facilities. It’s important to work together as your facility falls in their community; and their community members will come to your facility for healthcare provision!

Many of our CVHC members have engaged, participated in, and benefit from the great work being done through regional health districts and NACCHO. That’s why Issue 1, Volume 4 of CVHC Preparedness Awareness will outline several resources driven through NACCHO to your local health district for your knowledge and potential networking use.

NAACHO states, “A resilient and well-trained workforce is one that can transition from normal operations to emergency operations and back again in a way that minimizes employee health risk, stress reactions, and burn-out”. To build that resiliency, NACCHO has several training opportunities created to both strengthen the healthcare workforce’s preparedness and develop volunteer guidelines committed to improving the overall public health of the communities served. Four of these notable training programs and initiatives by NACCHO are Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), Roadmap to Ready, The Medical Reserve Corps, and Psychological First Aid for Leaders.

PPHR is an 18-month training program specifically for Local Health Departments through NACCHO and (CDC) to develop core competencies in emergency preparedness through quality improvement models. This allows LHDs to integrate into the response community, collaborate, and build partnerships and end with an all hazards plan development for their jurisdiction that is in line with national standards. Recognition is attained to the Health District for 5 years. Check out which Virginia Health Districts have completed this and when at: https://www.naccho.org/programs/public-health- preparedness/pphr?searchType=standard&lhd-state=VA#map

Roadmap to Ready

In person workshop for new (2yrs or less) preparedness coordinators at local health departments designed to assist with understanding the skills-gaining, networking, mentoring, and resources opportunities aimed at successfully leading and coordinating public health disasters and emergencies.

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)

While the MRC is an office under Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), NACCHO works collaboratively with the agency to help promote and align MRC activities and training for public health and emergency preparedness. MRC is a grouping of local volunteer units who are requested and deployed through an MRC coordinator at VDH to engage the community, enhance public health, decrease risks, build resilience, and improve preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities. Any licensed clinical provider (nurses, doctors, pharmacists, therapists, dentists) can join their local MRC; along with public health officials and general citizens who wish to keep their community, prepared and resilient. Your local MRC Unit Coordinator is able to match your skills with public health needs. For more information on how to become an MRC member, visit their website.

Psychological First Aid for Leaders (PFA-L)

  • This is a free 90-minute video on core components of Phycological First Aid (PFA).
  • PFA- L is aimed at the leaders understanding of staff stress risks and reactions to emergencies and disasters.
  • With this education, leaders can aim to create a more resilient workplace.
  • PFA is an evidence-based method of assisting persons of all ages, during the aftermath of a disaster, who were involved in or responded to the event.
  • Leaders in this course will work through scenarios to enhance education.
  • Click here to enroll into this course.

Why is it important to know what your Local Health District Coordinators are up to and educated in? Because we are all here to support and assist you, and ultimately THE PATIENTS (our community)!

Beyond the Issue

For more information on how to get involved in any of these programs, or have specific public health training provided to you and your workforce, contact your VDH Local Health Coordinator. CVHC can help get you connected! See the current list of Public Health District Coordinators to inquire on specific educational courses, exercises, and training opportunities your facility can get involved in or receive. (ex: Naloxone administration training, Stop the Bleed Training, community CPR courses, environmental risk education, and many more!)


“About.” National Association of County and City Health Officials, NACCHO, www.naccho.org/about.

“Division of the Civilian Volunteer – Medical Reserve Corps.” MRC, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, mrc.hhs.gov/HomePage.

“NACCHO:Public Health Preparedness.” Blue Sky Broadcast, National Association of County and City Health Officials, live.blueskybroadcast.com/bsb/client/CL_DEFAULT.aspClient=354947&PCAT=7365&CAT=7365.

“Project Public Health Ready (PPHR).” NACCHO, National Association of County and City Health Officials, www.naccho.org/programs/public-health-preparedness/pphr.

“Virginia Department of Health.” Go to Virginia Department of Health., Virginia Department of Health, www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/.

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