Report: Kansas makes jumps in readiness for public health crisis

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new report praises Kansas for making big strides in protecting you from a public health emergency.

Last year's report from Trust for America's Health only scored Kansas a three out of 10. This year's report was organized by tiers, and the state moved to the top.

"We are working tirelessly to increase the state's emergency preparedness related to health and medical," Michael McNulty, deputy preparedness director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said.

Trust for America's Health looked at 10 indicators that experts say every state should have in place to protect you from diseases, disasters and bioterrorism, such as flu vaccination rates and hospital safety procedures.

"Each one of those had a numerical value to it, and we added up the numerical values and put states into one of three performance tiers,” John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, said. “Kansas was in the high performers category, so that meant that looking across those10 indicators, it was among the strongest states."

Kansas is joined by neighboring states Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado in the top tier; Oklahoma ranked in the middle tier.

McNulty says health emergency preparedness is a team effort.

"We know they know no boundaries, and so they're going to cross county lines, they're going to cross state lines,” McNulty said. “So we make sure that we're coordinating information with them, and if we have good ideas or they have good ideas, the nation is really good about sharing those ideas so that we can learn from one another and continue to advance ourselves."

Though Kansas scored well in the report, officials say you can never be too prepared.

"You can always make what you have better,” McNulty said. “We look at it as a growth opportunity and a way that we can continue to identify gaps in our preparedness, and start looking to fill those gaps."

McNulty says the department is constantly working both internally and with external partners to ensure the state has effective plans and procedures in place.