How Disaster-Ready Are We?

April 3, 2006
by Amanda Bower

...The problem with a pandemic, by definition, is that it strikes everywhere at once. And according to a 2005 report by Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit that focuses on disease prevention, few states are prepared to cope with major disease outbreaks on their own. The report found problems at every level: nearly half the states did not adequately track disease outbreaks; hospitals in almost one third of states weren’t prepared to cope with a surge in patients; and 21 states did not have sufficient backup supplies to ventilate even 10 additional patients, never mind the thousands that would be needed in a full-fledged flu pandemic. Of course, all the equipment in the world won’t help if there’s no one to operate it. A 2005 survey of New York health care workers found that less than half would be willing to report to work during a SARS outbreak. According to the Trust for America’s Health report, hospitals in only two states, Rhode Island and South Dakota, have credible plans to get people to work during a major outbreak.

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