HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Henrico County Health Department was noted for emergency preparedness efforts by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
The five-year ‘Project Public Health Ready’ designation is given out to organizations that demonstrate capabilities for responding to a public health emergency. This is the third time the organization has earned the designation.
David Calkins, the local health emergency coordinator for the Henrico Health Department, says that the unit is proud to earn the certification again.
“We take preparing for public health emergencies seriously and we are always looking to improve,” Calkins said. “Our plans are up-to-date, adaptable and scalable to meet any public health emergency.”
Sarah Summers, the Senior Program Analyst of the NACCHO, says the Henrico Health Department checked all necessary boxes.
“We sort of consider it the ‘gold standard’ for preparedness for local health departments. They’ve met this incredibly high threshold for preparedness, planning, and response,” Summers said.
Calkins says that fires, earthquakes, and floods aren’t the only mass health emergencies they’re prepared for. The department is always prepared for disease outbreaks, using trailers to go to areas that are more at-risk of viruses like influenza, or currently, coronavirus.
“Several years ago we had a plan for Ebola and we set up what we call a unified command. We are getting information about the virus and sharing it with our partners,” Calkins said. “The first thing we do at the state level is monitor. Then we share information with the public. We let the public know what to do to protect themselves.”
The department does its best to learn about new viruses to prepare for the worst.