Assure that Allegan County Public Health Department
is fully prepared to respond, in a timely and comprehensive manner, to any public health emergency and threat.
- Ensure that there is an appropriate identification and response to public health emergencies and bioterrorism events.
- Secure a competent public health, healthcare, and emergency response workforce exists in our jurisdiction.
- Confirm that the Allegan County Health Department’s policies will support an effective and coordinated response to a public health emergency.
- Verify that State, Local and community partnerships are mobilized- to promptly identify problems, to coordinate a response to public health emergencies and to assure adequate health care for affected individuals.
Emergency Preparedness & Bioterrorism Coordinator:
Kathy Yonkers-Wright, RDH, MS, CAGS
In 2014, Allegan County Health Department’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Division received national recognition for emergency preparedness planning. This prestigious award was given to ACHD's PHEP by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for the division's ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies. The Emergency Preparedness & Bioterrorism Coordinator, Kathy Yonkers-Wright, RDH, MS, CAGS submitted emergency preparedness plans met 100% of the 287 benchmarks to prove readiness capabilities. No deficiencies were noted. These preparedness benchmarks are required for recognition by Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a unique partnership between NACCHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ACHD's PHEP received full recognition for five years.The Department was awarded the Jean Chabut's Policy Champion Award in 2015 for the completion of the PPHR national accreditation. This special recognition was signed by Governor Snyder.
Comments made by the PPHR reviewers include:
Exemplary Practice: The applicant's “Vulnerable Population Profile” is an example of model practice.
Overall Application Comment: The applicant’s plan provides a foundational framework for departmental response operations and integration into other response frameworks.
Background on Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP)
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on USA soil and the following Anthrax bioterrorism event made the local public health departments aware of their need to expand their public emergency response capability. While the traditional role of local public health departments has been to handle infectious disease outbreaks of natural acquired diseases, the continued threat of bioterrorism has expanded their scope of response planning.
The federal government has allocated funds to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) for the purpose of increasing national public health preparedness as well as increasing the ability to respond to emergency situations. A portion of this funding has been granted to the states. In Michigan, the Michigan Department of Community Health
(MDCH) has used CDC emergency preparedness grants to create a new division focusing specifically on emergency planning, called the Office of Public Health Preparedness
, and to enhance surveillance, epidemiological, and laboratory capacity at the state level. The CDC through the State of Michigan provided funding for Emergency Preparedness Coordinators (also referred to Emergency Preparedness Managers) to manage the local Public Health Emergency Preparedness Divisions.
The Allegan County Health Department, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Division has been developed to provide an organized and coordinated response to any natural or human-caused public emergency which contains and actual or potential public health hazard, including communicable disease outbreaks, environmental sanitation hazards, emergencies involving toxic and hazardous materials, and other chemical, biological and radiological incidents. Ms. Kathy Yonkers-Wright, RDH, MS, CAGS serves as Allegan County Health Department's Emergency Preparedness and Bioterrorism Coordinator (EPC) and Public Information Officer (PIO). In her appointment, Kathy enhance the health department’s capacity to respond to bioterrorist attacks, stockpile vaccines and drugs, supply responders and the public with necessary protective measures or treatments, establish communications programs, educate and train public health and health care professionals and the general public in emergency response, and prepare educational materials. Overall, the EPCs' plans for all hazards and coordinate the public health emergency response.
Our section focuses on reducing the public health threats from infectious diseases, natural disasters, and terrorist acts, such as those caused by chemical and biological agents. The Allegan County Health Department actively collaborates with local, regional, state, and federal agencies to prepare for and respond to incidents that threaten public health. We work closely with Allegan County Emergency Management, the District 5 Medical Response Coalition
, and other Emergency Preparedness committees to ensure a coordinated, effective response to any emergency. All residents need to be prepared to sustain themselves for a minimum of 72 hours for any possible community emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) is one resource for assisting citizens. You will also find valuable local information on the Allegan County's Emergency Management.