State to create medical worker registry
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed key disaster preparedness legislation today that will give state agencies the critical information they need to better coordinate public safety efforts in the event of a major disaster. House Bill 3819, sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Rep. Roger Jenisch (R- Bloomingdale), requires the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to create a database of all the licensed medical personnel professionals in the state.
“When lives are at stake, every moment counts. Having this critical information at our fingertips means we can respond faster and respond better to emergencies and disasters,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will provide information on medical professionals to IDPH, which will be used to contact health care professionals to assist in a bioterrorist attack or massive public health emergency.The registry will include all active-status health care professionals who could be contacted to volunteer their medical skills during emergencies.
“This database will be completely secure and will be used to save time and increase efficiency if we are faced with a major health disaster,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “This law is adding another layer of preparedness to the states’ current emergency response plan.”
“Public safety and emergency preparedness is truly a bi-partisan issue. This is about the citizens of Illinois knowing that this administration is continually strengthening our plan to keep them safe,” said Sen. Hunter.
“This legislation builds upon the state’s commitment to improving public safety and being better prepared for a public health emergency or terrorist attack,” said Rep. Jensich.
This law goes into effect immediately.
The bioterrorism registry builds upon the state’s ongoing homeland security and preparedness efforts.
- Last year, Illinois retained the nation's highest rating ("Green") from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to manage the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) during an act of bioterrorism or other mass casualty event. Illinois is one of only six states to achieve this preparedness rating.
- In March 2004,Gov. Blagojevich implemented the Illinois-National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (I-NEDSS), a secure, Web-based system for hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to electronically report infectious diseases. The system allows medical professionals and public health officials to effectively respond to public health emergencies immediately. I-NEDSS is part of a nation-wide system linking state and local public health departments with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In March 2004, the administration launched a Web-based version of the hospital bypass system that provides the state with up-to-the-minute information from more than 200 hospitals in Illinois on the availability of beds and other critical health care services necessary to guide the response to an act of terrorism or other public health emergencies.
- Under the Blagojevich administration, the Illinois Emergency Medical Response Team (IMERT) has expanded to 12 teams and 900 participants. IMERT responds and assists with emergency medical treatment of mass casualty incidents when activated by the Director of Public Health. Each team consists of a physician, nurse, paramedic and an EMT that volunteer their time. The state continues to recruit more volunteers to participate in this effort.
- The Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) is a partnership with Chicago, St. Louis and neighboring states, which focuses on conducting readiness exercises between large metropolitan areas and states and how the different entities can work together on preparedness.
- The state created the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System (IPHMAS) last year to strengthen the preparedness of the public health system in Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich called on all the local health departments throughout the state to sign on to the project, which provides for the sharing of resources in the event of a bioterrorist attack or other emergency. All 95 local health departments in the state heeded the governor’s call to action and signed on to participate in the system. The pact provides personnel, equipment, and supplies assistance to a stricken area by local health departments.
- The Chem-Pack project is an initiative geared toward raising preparedness efforts related to responding to chemical or nerve agent terrorist attacks. Illinois distributed the chem-packs last fall to hospitals around the state to protect against a nerve agent attack. The packs contain medicine to treat nerve agent exposure.
- The State Weapons of Mass Destruction (SWMD) Team is a multi-agency effort including the Illinois State Police, Secretary of State Police, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The team is trained to respond to a biological, chemical or radiological agent attack. Specially trained individuals determine what type of agent has been used and how to respond.