Press Release

February 10, 2006


Stephenson County Health Department and volunteers test medication dispensing process

FREEPORT, Ill. – State Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Representative Jim Sacia (R-Freeport) and other area officials attended the Stephenson County Health Department training exercise today designed to evaluate the department’s plan for dispensing medications from the Strategic National Stockpile during a bioterrorism event.

“Having a stockpile of medications to be used during a bioterrorism incident, pandemic flu outbreak or other disaster doesn’t do any good if we can get them to the people who need them, when they need them,” said Dr. Whitaker. “This training exercise is a great way to determine what works and what doesn’t work so when an emergency does occur, we’ll be prepared and our medication distribution process will be efficient and effective.”

The training exercise included 30 public health employees and approximately 50 volunteers from the community. The health department set up a medication-dispensing site at Highland Community College that included areas for registration, receiving medication and mental health counseling. Each employee and volunteer played a part in the process to see what ran smoothly and what needed to be worked on.

“This is the first time the Stephenson County Health Department has conducted a bioterrorism training event,” said Stephenson County Health Department Administrator Craig Bientema. “It’s important to remember that we cannot accomplish our goals during a disaster without the help of volunteers and this training is a perfect opportunity for both the volunteers and first responders to see what needs to be done.”

The Centers for Disease Control has asked the Illinois Department of Public Health, working in cooperation with local health departments, to conduct a full-scale distribution and dispensing exercise in every Illinois health jurisdiction by April 1, 2006. To date, approximately 70 percent of the 95 health departments have completed the training. The dispensing exercises will assure that all residents of the county, and therefore the state, will receive the needed medications.

In 2003 Illinois became only the second state to obtain the Green, or highest rating, for its Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Program. Illinois has not only maintained its Green rating for the past three years, but has also remained one of only seven states to have the highest rating for its SNS Program. Illinois's model of using local health departments to dispense medications and provide vaccinations has become a trademark and a highly valued component of the nationally respected Illinois SNS Program.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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