Sullivan County Health Care and Public Health Network Partner to Simulate Public Health Emergency

Closed POD Drill resizedSullivan County Health Care and the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network recently conducted a public health emergency preparedness drill. The drill, which took place at the Sullivan County Unity complex on September 13-14, 2017, simulated a large-scale influenza outbreak creating a need for Sullivan County, which serves as a closed Point of Dispensing (POD), to open and provide medication to their residents and essential personnel.

Public health emergencies can result from various hazards including natural disasters like hurricanes and tornados, disease outbreaks like pandemic flu, and deliberate acts such as aerosolized release of anthrax. If a public health emergency did occur, residents in the Greater Sullivan County region would be directed to an open POD to receive medication. “When looking at the geography of this region and taking into account the logistics of providing lifesaving medications to upwards of 47,000 people through one or two open POD locations, it became clear we needed to look at more options,” said Kirsten Vigneault, Director of Community Health Preparedness.

Closed PODs are not open to the community members at large; instead, they serve a specific type of place/person. Agencies that choose to become closed PODs benefit the community by decreasing the number of people accessing designated open POD locations, and helping the region dispense medication more rapidly. Sullivan County employs about 300 people, cares for 156 residents in the Sullivan County Nursing Home, and 155 inmates at the Department of Corrections. Including employees’ immediate family members, Sullivan County could provide medications to over 1,000 people and is currently the only closed POD in the region.

“It was a pleasure to work with Kirsten from the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network as well as Golden Cross Ambulance Service and many of our SCHC staff during this emergency preparedness drill,” said Patti Henderson, Director of Nursing for Sullivan County Health Care. “It is comforting to know we have a plan in place for our residents, inmates, employees, and their families should there be a medical emergency requiring mass dispensing of medications or vaccines.”

The Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network appreciates the time and efforts of Sullivan County Health Care as well as Golden Cross Ambulance who also participated in the emergency preparedness drill. “This exercise is an excellent example of how the County works with its partners to support the people of Sullivan County,” said Derek Ferland, Manager for Sullivan County. “By utilizing the County’s Unity complex as a closed dispensing point, we could provide lifesaving medications to our staff, their family members, residents, and inmates without interfering with normal operations or patient care.”

The Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network is an affiliate of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and serves as a system of organizations and individuals that work together to identify and address public health challenges in the region. The network is made up of educational institutions, community organizations, healthcare systems, first responders, law enforcement, government agencies, businesses, and volunteers dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of our community. You can follow the Network on Twitter and Facebook at @GSCPHN.
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