Health and Family Services Cabinet
State Health Department Prepares to Provide Hurricane Assistance to Gulf Coast Region
Public health workers could provide variety of services to affected areas
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 29, 2008) – Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) officials are assembling resources and personnel in preparation to assist areas hit the hardest if Hurricane Gustav makes landfall as predicted early next week.
“Kentucky public health stands willing and able to provide assistance to those areas affected by the storm,” said William D. Hacker, M.D., commissioner for public health. “We are actively assembling teams of state and local public health staff that could deploy to affected regions to help address critical health issues, such as food and water safety. In addition, we are preparing for the potential arrival of evacuees in Kentucky.”
The type of “strike” teams that might be deployed consist of public health specialists that address critical health issues, such as food and water safety, disease tracking, special needs shelter operations and communication.
DPH is also sending alerts about potential needs to individuals registered with the Kentucky Health Emergency Listing of Professionals for Surge (K HELPS) program, a state-based system to register medical professionals interested in volunteering to offer assistance during public health emergencies or disasters. Volunteers could be deployed to the Gulf Coast region or in support of efforts in Kentucky.
Kentucky has agreed to receive possible displaced residents from the Gulf Coast region under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an interstate mutual aid program that offers assistance from other member states. Some of these possibly displaced residents may require assistance at special needs shelters or care from health care facilities.
Volunteers interested with assisting in efforts can register with K HELPS online at https://khelps.chfs.ky.gov. While all health workers willing to volunteer are invited to register, the current emphasis is on recruiting physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, radiological technologists, respiratory therapists and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians. DPH began to build the K HELPS program during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, and it now has more than 2,400 individuals registered.
For information on public health preparedness, visit: http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/preparedness/