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Virginia repeats top state ranking in 2021 National Health Security Preparedness report

If public health is threatened, Virginia is definitely one of the states where you would want to be, according to Julian Walker, vice president of communications for the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a real-world stress test of the readiness of Virginia governmental, health care delivery, and emergency management systems to respond to a major public health threat. Throughout this time, Virginia’s hospitals, public health and emergency management agencies, and other public and private sector stakeholders have effectively navigated this unprecedented crisis while facing many pandemic-related challenges.

According to the 2021 National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI), Virginia is again listed as one of the states best prepared to respond to public health emergencies.  The NHSPI, compiled by the annual index compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the University of Colorado School of Public Health, and the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research, was recently released.

Virginia scored 7.4 on a 10-point scale, representing the top mark among states alongside Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. The national average is 6.8.

Last year, Virginia also ranked as one of the top states in the 2020 NHSPI report and among the highest performing states in the Trust for America’s Health Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism annual report in 2020 and 2021.

“Our hospital and health system members and their teams of dedicated caregivers and support personnel have been tested like never before while treating patients and protecting public healthfrom the moment the COVID-19 pandemic reached Virginia in March 2020,” said Sean T. Connaughton, a former chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. who is now President and CEO of Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA).

Connaughton added, “They have responded to this unprecedented global health emergency with skill, determination, and great courage. In the process, they have participated in a large-scale response effort that includes providing direct care to nearly 70,000 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 who were later discharged, administering more than 2 million vaccine doses, and much more. Virginia’s ranking as a top state for public health emergency readiness is a testament to the work of many people and organizations, including our hospitals and their employees.”

The NHSPI is a national tool that measures existing capabilities to protect the public from the health consequences of disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and other large-scale hazardous events. Assessments are based on data drawn data from 64 sources and it represents one of the most comprehensive evaluations of state-by-state emergency preparedness infrastructure.

The NHSPI assessment methodology incorporates several years of data to measure performance across six domains:
• health security surveillance
• community planning and engagement
• incident and information management
• healthcare delivery
• countermeasure management and
• environmental and occupational health.

Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 25 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth.

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