Governor, U.S. HHS Secretary Discuss Preparedness and Response at Pandemic Flu Summit

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - At a Pandemic Flu Summit in Manchester today, Gov. John Lynch and U.S. Health and Human Secretary Mike Leavitt today discussed with state and local officials, health care providers, emergency workers and business leaders the status of state and federal efforts to prepare for any potential pandemic flu.

"An Avian Flu pandemic could be devastating - taking lives, and creating upheaval for our families, our communities and our economy. While I hope that Avian Flu never reaches New Hampshire, I am committed to making sure that we continue to work together to do everything possible to prepare," Gov. Lynch said.

"I believe New Hampshire's emergency response system works well. We saw that during the floods this month and in October, but in our planning, we must also recognize that an avian flu response will be much different to our response to a natural disaster," Gov. Lynch said. "An avian flu pandemic will not be a one-, two-, or three-day event. It will be sustained, and it could come in several different waves. That is why it is so especially important that we all prepare, and that we all work together."

To prepare for any possible Avian Flu outbreak, Gov. Lynch is meeting regularly with representatives of a number of state agencies to ensure efforts to plan and respond are coordinated.

Last November, New Hampshire held a statewide drill to test state and local coordination and response to an avian flu outbreak, and the state's ability to distribute medications from the National Strategic Stockpile, a cache of medication available through the Centers for Disease Control, in the event of a pandemic.

In addition to the drill, New Hampshire:

  • Developed a comprehensive flu pandemic plan
  • Developed guidelines for distributing medications or vaccines
  • Developed a master plan for pandemic planning in academic settings, such as colleges where a virus could spread quickly
  • Is conducting community education through a variety of forums
  • Is training key first responders, including police, fire, EMTs, and faith-based organizations
  • Is awarding grants and helping local communities develop their own local response plans
  • Is working to improve hospital isolation capacity

Gov. Lynch and Secretary Leavitt also signed an agreement today pledging that New Hampshire and the federal government will continue to work together to prepare for and response to any pandemic flu.

"A pandemic flu will also not respect state borders. Every state must be equally prepared and equally able to respond. We are depending on our partners in the federal government to ensure that the resources are there to make that happen, as well as to make sure there is an adequate national supply of any potential vaccine or anti-viral medication," Gov. Lynch said.

Participating in today's discussions were John Stephen, New Hampshire Health and Human Services commissioner; Bruce Cheney, director of New Hampshire's Bureau of Emergency Management; Admiral John Agwunobi, Assistant Secretary for Health, US HHS; Tracy Henke, executive director at Office of Grants and Training, US Department of Homeland Security; Mary Ann Cooney, Office of Health Management, NH HHS; Dr. Jose Montero, State Epidemiologist; Dr. Lisa Carlson, Public Health Director, Manchester Health Dept.; and Mike Hill, president, NH Hospital Association.