For Immediate Release: March 17, 2003
Senate Committee Approves
A Senate committee has given the nod to a measure aimed at protecting the public in the event of a "catastrophic health emergency."
Angela Monson is Senate author of House Bill 1467 along with principal author Representative Bill Paulk
"With the nation on the brink of war, I think it re-emphasizes the importance of having a plan in place so that we can help ensure the delivery of medical care and services in the face of a truly catastrophic event here in Oklahoma," said Senator Monson, D-OKC
Those events included under the term "catastrophic health emergency" could include a nuclear attack, bioterrorism or a chemical attack resulting in large numbers of deaths in an area, large numbers of serious or long-term disabilities or widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent. The legislation also calls for a task force which will include members of the medical community to help work out details of the health emergency plan.
"Nothing is set in concrete. I want to work with fellow members to help address any concerns or make improvements to the bill throughout the process. But the general idea is to have a plan already in place. In the event of some sort of attack, the Governor would declare a catastrophic health emergency," explained Monson. "The legislature could disapprove the declaration, but if they do not object, the plan would stay in place no longer than thirty days unless the Governor extends."
The plan would deal with a wide range of health considerations including coordination of services of physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians and mental health support personnel in the wake of an emergency. It would also address the special concerns of a bioterrorist attack which could leave large numbers of the population susceptible to infectious diseases.
"A massive coordination of medical personnel and facilities is just something we are not prepared for. That's what we hope to remedy with this bill," said Monson.
HB 1467 must now be considered by the full Senate.
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