Virginia Ranks in Top Tier in New Report on Public Health Emergency Preparedness

The 2022 report from Trust for America’s Health placed Virginia in the top of three tiers for state readiness to respond to health emergencies, along with Maryland, 15 other states, and Washington, D.C. That’s the third time in a row for Virginia to hit the top ranking.

“This ongoing and repeated validation of Virginia’s public health emergency preparedness is a testament to the hard work of the thousands of employees of the Virginia Department of Health who day in and day out are focused on protecting the health and promoting the well-being of Virginians,” Acting State Health Commissioner Colin Greene, MD, MPH said in a joint press release from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA.) “Our ongoing attention to preparedness means that when we are faced with situations such as this pandemic or severe weather events or calculated attacks, we have systems, guidance, relationships and community partnerships in place to launch a comprehensive response.”

The Ready or Not 2022 Annual Report on Public Health Emergency Preparedness focuses on indicators including a percentage of the population served by a comprehensive public health system, accreditation by relevant agencies, size of the public health budget compared with the previous year, water security, percent of people six months or older who received a seasonal flu vaccine, percentage of hospitals with an ‘A’ grade on the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, and having a public health laboratory plan for a weeks-long surge in a testing capacity.

Virginia ranked top in the U.S. on hospital safety, with 56 percent of its hospitals earning an ‘A’ grade. It performed well to moderately well on other metrics but didn’t score significantly below average in any areas. Only three percent of the population uses a contaminated water system. 56 percent of the population got a flu vaccine in 2020-2021. Only 44 percent of the population was served by a comprehensive public health system in 2018. Virginia reported a seven percent increase in public health funding from Fiscal Year 2020 to 2021.

“Virginia’s hospitals are critical partners in the Commonwealth’s emergency preparedness infrastructure and essential providers of life-saving care to patients, including those whose well-being is compromised by public health emergencies,” VHHA President and CEO Sean Connaughton said. “The pandemic has been a real-world stress test of our health care delivery system and its level of emergency readiness. While there are always opportunities to improve, it is gratifying to see that Virginia’s commitment to preparedness continues to place us among the top states in the nation.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network.  Email tips to [email protected].

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