St. Louis | Dallas | Seattle & King County

St. Louis County

5 months + 600% success rate

In 2010, St. Louis County had enlisted its largest university and its largest employer to serve as Closed PODs, along with most of its hospitals and first responders. That original effort took 18 months, and while it was successful, the results still represented just 27 percent of its one million population, leaving nearly three out of four residents who would expect to rely on one of the county’s planned 20 Open PODs.

The year before, when it had activated several Open PODs to distribute H1N1 vaccine, it was clear there were not sufficient paid county employees to staff all of the Open PODs it would need in the event of a bio-terrorism attack to the region.

The county obtained a PHER grant to improve its Closed POD network, issued an RFP and awarded the competitive grant to a five-year-old non-profit organization, PandemicPrep.Org, which established the Bio-Defense Network as an affiliate. (Bio-Defense Network has since spun off and become a for-profit public health consultancy supporting local health departments around the nation.) An initial goal of 35 percent coverage was accepted for full payment, with a “stretch goal” of 50 percent established.

By approaching business continuity and human resource professionals in the county’s top employers, other universities and public school nurses, the Bio-Defense Network team quickly surpassed its goal of enrollees, and also surpassed its stretch goal, eventually raising St. Louis County’s total number of enrollees to about 72 percent of the county’s residents.

Working with the State of Missouri, the team created an approved Closed POD training curriculum for managers and dispensers, and trained several hundred employees to be certified to distribute medications in the event of a public health emergency. Drawing heavily from the National Association of County and City Health Officials resources, the Bio-Defense Network created a multi-chapter work book that was provided to the leaders of all Closed PODs, and made a special presentation to medical directors of companies contemplating become Closed PODs.

It also established a relationship with the Visiting Nurse Association, which agreed to provide medical oversight to any Closed POD that didn’t have in-house medical professionals. Those agreements were made between the Closed PODs and VNA, and will go into effect only if and when Closed PODs are activated. VNA also signed up to be a Closed POD for its employees. NATION’S BEST-PREPARED COMMUNITY The county continues to expand its Closed POD network by adding new employers, conducts annual evaluations of its Closed POD partners, and provides training and exercises for managers.

Because the county — with Bio-Defense Network’s support – is able to focus on just a quarter of its population in its Open PODs, it is one of the nation’s best-prepared communities to deal with a bio-terrorism event.

Dallas County

Bringing success to Dallas

County representatives attended a presentation offered by Bio-Defense Network and St. Louis County at a NACCHO PHP Summit in Anaheim in 2012. Prior to attending the session, the county had tried to expand its Closed POD network; it worked with federally qualified health centers, nursing homes and some private businesses. It had limited success, and found the effort to be time intensive and hard to maintain.

Following the presentation, the county engaged Bio-Defense Network to support its Closed POD program. It set an initial goal of 100,000 new enrollees, and Bio-Defense Network quickly began its outreach to the county’s larger employers. Bio-Defense Network also conducted outreach to places of worship, schools and universities and major business office complexes. The efforts were successful; more than double the goal of 100,000 new enrollees.

Dallas County listed four reasons it engaged the company:

  1. It could spend time doing intensive and targeted recruiting for Closed PODs
  2. Excellent follow-up (They’re persistent!)
  3. Coming from the private sector, they are better able to address questions/concerns from businesses
  4. They get us in the door, so we can establish a lasting partnership.

As a result of that success, the county rehired Bio-Defense Network to continue its efforts in 2014 and again in 2015, and has also engaged the company to support its Medical Reserve Corps program, re-recruiting over 100 people interested in becoming an MRC member.

A Relationship That Works

Due to the Bio-Defense Network team’s activity, persistence and persuasive sales program, some of the county’s largest employers have enlisted as members of the Dallas County Closed POD network. These were companies the county had previously attempted to engage without success.

The Dallas County-Bio-Defense Network is a relationship that works, and one that will continue into the future, as the county expects to hire the company for a third time in late 2014.

If any business or organization wants to join Dallas County’s Closed POD Network, please contact Emily.Gore@dallascounty.org

For more information, see the Dallas County HHS website.

Seattle & King County

Goal was exceeded by 125 percent

Seattle & King County Washington coordinated with adjacent counties Snohomish and Pierce to engage Bio-Defense Network. The goals were to recruit employers representing at least 300,000 new enrollees in Northwest Washington State; develop the region’s local distribution site plan and provide two customized training sessions for Closed POD hosts.

Kickoff meetings were scheduled and conducted for each of the three counties, providing potential Closed POD hosts with full opportunities to ask questions and seek detailed information.

The recruitment efforts were a rousing success, with employers representing nearly 380,000 residents recruited, meaning the goal was exceeded by 125 percent. Hosts included a major software company and a book distribution company, as well as a significant number of community pharmacies. All work was accomplished in 2014 and 2015, helping make the community even better prepared to respond to a bio-terrorism event.

On time, on budget, over-performance!