Update on Infectious Disease

Recently, TCMA Region Directors and Presidents were contacted regarding critical information addressing health emergency responses and the role TCMA and its membership may have. Immediate Past President Mike Land, Deputy City Manager, City of Coppell; and Jack Harper, Assistant City Manager, City of Waco, have worked closely together on this issue. They have found materials, discovered several case studies written about the Dallas Ebola situation, and have had several conversations with key individuals. Through their research and discussions, the default position at this time is: Should a high consequence infectious disease incident occur, city managers should immediately engage their individual emergency management response protocols. However, a challenge remains. Once this plan is engaged, each is expecting that when the engagement calls begin within the city itself and to outside agencies, that the department or agency at the other end of the call knows what the next steps are and has the where-with-all to make the appropriate something happen. This is where our conversations have led us to have concerns.  As city managers and leaders in our communities, we need to be educated on what to expect when the plan is engaged.

While there is an annex in all of our emergency management plans, there is much more to the story.  The challenge is to find within all the various agencies a semblance of knowledge of what to do and how to work together. Currently, it appears there is a current lack of a general yet unified guidelines or protocols in place. In many instances, there is work being done, but appears to be disjointed.

Last month in the TCMA Management Messenger, information was provided regarding the Texas Department of Health Services workshops being held around the State. You are encouraged to attend. The regional workshops are titled High Consequence Infectious Disease Response: Ebola and Other Pathogens, a Multi-Disciplinary Workshop. Registration information is available at http://www.texas-hcid-workshops.org/index.html.

What happens after the workshop is even more important. According to the state, each Public Health Region (there are 11) will begin a response planning process for their respective region. This planning process will begin after the regional workshop in that particular region has been held. The response planning process, as currently understood, will be led by each of the Regional Medical Directors. A mock map overlaying the Public Health Regions with TCMA’s Regions and contacts information for each of the Regional Medical Directors is available at TCMA Health Regions and Contacts. TCMA encourages your city to be involved and begin a dialogue in the planning process by contacting your respective Regional Medical Directors. Express your willingness to participate on behalf of TCMA, your region, and your community. Given the likelihood that appointment to the planning committee will involve political appointees and multiple agencies, networking with the Regional Medical Director this early in the process will help insure your involvement at the highest level. Please be aware that while contact with the State Health Services Department about our pursuit has been communicated, do not expect that any of the Regional Medical Directors will know that you will be calling or why.

Please take time to educate yourself and your staff by attending a State sponsored workshops and contact the appropriate Regional Medical Director to establish a relationship. It’s important to be a part of the response planning process for your region. This is a complex, dynamic, and rapidly changing issue. Thank you for your service and commitment to the citizens of your community.

For questions and feedback, please contact Mike Land at [email protected] or 972-304-3670.