Study ranks Iowa as middle-performing for emergency prep

DES MOINES — A new report places Iowa in the middle of the pack in terms of the state’s preparedness for emergencies — from weather disasters to disease outbreaks to terrorist attacks.

Dr. Nadine Gracia, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, says the annual “Ready or Not” report placed 21 states and Washington, D.C. in the high-performance tier for emergency readiness, Iowa and 12 other states in the middle-performance tier, and 16 states in the bottom tier.

“Some areas of strong performance in Iowa include that the state has the capacity to expand its healthcare capacity, as well as public health laboratory capacity in times of emergency,” Gracia says. “The state also has accreditation for public health, and the state increased its public health funding.”

Iowa was also in the middle tier in last year’s report, as she says the state could do more to be better prepared for future challenges.

“Where there are opportunities for improvement are also seeking and gaining accreditation in emergency management as well as improvements with regards to flu vaccination,” Gracia says. “Flu vaccination is about 50% for the state, and our national goal and target is 70%.”

The nation’s emergency preparedness has improved in some areas, Gracia says, while public health officials and policymakers need to do more to strengthen health emergency preparedness — and Iowa could do better, too.

“Another area is in patient safety, and the patient safety and performance of hospital ratings,” Gracia says. “Only about 9% had an ‘A’ grade in terms of patient safety, so those are some areas and indicators for the state for opportunities for improvement.” Only about a quarter of all hospitals nationwide have that “A” rating.

Gracia says a majority of states have made preparations to expand healthcare and public health laboratory capacity during an emergency, but she says the report also found too few people are vaccinated against seasonal flu and too few workers have access to paid time off.

See the full report HERE.