NC is not ready for the next pandemic, but this act may help

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A technician from UNC Health is packing a sample test for COVID-19 to be sent to a lab on September 8, 2020 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

rwillett@newsobserver.com

The headlines screamed warnings for months. Those who had close people in the hospital saw it for themselves. COVID-19 has exhausted and depleted American health care.

The pandemic has realized that there is simply not enough people working in the field of bio-preparedness to plan and respond to health emergencies. Less often, how to ensure that this does not happen again is discussed.

Most NC counties do not have an infectious disease doctor. An act in Congress can help change that. Here’s why it’s important:

Infectious disease specialists – including physicians, paramedics, clinical pharmacists, clinical laboratory specialists, certified nurses, infection prevention and medical scientists – are a key part of the bioprepared workforce. Their responsibilities include developing sorting, isolation and treatment protocols, laboratory testing, dissemination of PPE, training of other medical personnel in the management and prevention of infections, and communication with the public.

These professionals play an integral role during pandemics and other public health threats, including antibiotic resistance and threats posed by natural disasters such as the deadly floods caused by recent hurricanes and tropical storms that have affected thousands of NC families. .

Despite their importance, infectious disease specialists are lacking. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. counties do not have an infectious disease doctor, and infectious disease training programs have difficulty recruiting candidates. In North Carolina, 71 of the 100 counties do not have infectious disease doctors.

Congress can help by passing a bipartisan Biological Training Act, which would establish a student loan repayment program for those pursuing a career in biopreparedness. This bill will expand community access to care and expertise in infectious diseases and protect against future threats. Without this, the situation is terrible.

North Carolina has large rural areas and public hospitals without support for infectious diseases. Duke University helped 30 public hospitals prevent infections in 2020 and supported another 30 in other states.

Requirements for laboratory tests have increased dramatically due to COVID. Therefore, there is a demand for laboratory specialists to perform analyzes and analyze the results. But there are more than 70 open laboratory jobs in the UNC health system, and it takes an average of four months to fill them. It is expected that the need for qualified laboratory specialists will only increase.

Bio-preparedness is also crucial for the NC military community. The state has eight bases, including the world’s largest Fort Bragg. Infectious disease scientists are working with the Department of Defense to improve testing for respiratory viruses to detect military personnel who may be unknowingly infected, ensuring they are healthy to deploy and do not bring in new or persistent pathogens. The national security and health of NC communities are hanging by a thread.

As the pandemic begins its third year, one thing is clear: more experts are needed to find answers. Legislators from the Northern Kingdom must enact a BIO Workforce Preparation Act to ensure a workforce is available to respond quickly and effectively to the next health emergency. Without people there is no readiness.

Dr. Alexander is an infectious disease specialist at Duke University and a former president of the Infectious Society of America.



NC is not ready for the next pandemic, but this act may help

Source link NC is not ready for the next pandemic, but this act may help