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(Editor’s Note: Reporters are invited to attend the opening session on July 13. Commissioner Heather Howard will address the summit at 9 am; a press availability will be held mid-day. Reporters wishing to attend should call (609-984-5348 to reserve a spot.)
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services will host a statewide Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Summit beginning Monday at the New Brunswick Hyatt Regency to bring local health, hospital, homeland security, emergency management and other officials together to ensure that New Jersey is as prepared as possible for H1N1 influenza this fall.
This summit consists of a series of workshops that begin on Monday, July 13 and continue on July 14, reconvene on August 20-21 and conclude on September 29 at the New Brunswick Hyatt Regency.
The goal of the summit is to enhance pandemic preparedness across government, in the private sector and throughout the healthcare system. Summit participants will include representatives from local health departments, local and state Offices of Emergency Management, Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospitals, the Department of Health and Senior Services and other cabinet-level agencies.
The capacity of health care facilities to treat a large influx of patients, continuity of operations, communications, disease surveillance, mental health concerns and vaccination planning are among the topics that will be discussed.
Today, Commissioner Howard, Education Commissioner Lucille Davy and other state officials attended a daylong H1NI Influenza Preparedness Summit hosted by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Bethesda, Maryland. The summit was convened to discuss school preparedness, vaccination planning and to share best practices and lessons learned from the spring and summer H1N1 wave.
“A team of New Jersey officials attended today’s national Influenza Pandemic Summit where officials asked states to join a national influenza campaign and now we will get to work in New Jersey to ensure that the state is as prepared as possible to deal with H1N1 influenza this fall,’’ said Governor Jon S. Corzine.
“The message at today’s national summit was clear—states need to prepare now in order to be ready in the event that H1N1 Influenza becomes more serious in the fall. Preparedness is a work in progress,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard.
“New Jersey has more than 800 confirmed cases of H1N1 and—unfortunately 10 deaths—so it is imperative that all of us work together, plan together and implement plans together for an effective response,’’ the Commissioner said.
During today’s national summit, Commissioner Howard said she learned about the importance of updating and exercising pandemic flu plans and heard about the successes and lessons learned in other states during the spring outbreak.
Monday’s New Jersey summit will include opening remarks from Commissioner Howard and presentations from James Blumenstock, Chief Program Officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), Dr. Paul Etkind, Senior Analyst for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCH), and Dr. Pascale Wortley, Chief of the Health Services Research and Evaluation Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There will also be presentations on the overall state pandemic plan from DHSS Senior Assistant Commissioner Dave Gruber; the Department pandemic plan from Dr. Susan Walsh, Deputy Commissioner; and mental health aspects of a pandemic from Gladys Padros of the Department of Human Services.
The day will end with a series of “promising practices” presentations from participants, highlighting activities that were successful during the response to H1N1 influenza this spring.
The summit will also explore ways to incorporate information gathered during the earlier summits.
For more information, please see the Department’s H1N1 website at http://nj.gov/health/er/h1n1/.
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360