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September 12, 2002

GSPH to set up health preparedness center

The Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) is establishing a Center for Public Health Preparedness with a $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new GSPH center is one of 15 CDC-sponsored preparedness centers nationwide charged with training the nation's public health, health care and public safety workforce in responding to terrorist incidents, infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats. The funding is part of the $2.9 billion in bioterrorism appropriations signed in January by President Bush.

The Center for Public Health Preparedness at Pitt will cover training of public health, health care and public service professionals in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The principal investigator is Margaret Potter, associate dean for public health practice at GSPH. The senior biodefense adviser is Samuel Watson, a co-founder and past director of the BioMedical Security Institute, a joint project of Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University.

A co-director for Ohio is expected to be named soon.

Training programs begin this fall. Working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pitt's Center for Public Health Preparedness will:

* Provide ongoing crisis leadership training for senior officials in the fields of public health, emergency management, emergency medical systems and hospital emergency departments.

* Direct a surge-capacity training program for medical professionals such as physicians and nurses, who would assist public health officials during a bioterrorism emergency.

* Instruct rural hospital personnel in handling bioterrorism emergencies for 24-48 hours without outside assistance. This rural preparedness program will be spearheaded by the Center for Rural Health Practice, directed by Michael Meit, at Pitt's Bradford campus.

The 15 Centers for Public Health Preparedness will coordinate programs with the states' bioterrorism plans, the national bioterrorism training plan and the national public health workforce development initiative.

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Filed under: Feature,Volume 35 Issue 2

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