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 For Immediate Release
October 15, 2014

DHEC Board Issues Order to Create Health Preparedness Network

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Board of Health and Environmental Control today issued a Public Health Order (PHO) to create a statewide Health Preparedness Network (HPN), which will provide for essential email communications to a central database of key individuals and facilities who are on the front lines of South Carolina's preparedness capabilities when dealing with potentially serious health threats like the Ebola virus.

Ebola is a highly infectious and deadly virus with a high mortality rate. As of this date, there are several confirmed cases in the United States, and more than one hundred individuals in quarantine who are subject to daily monitoring following exposure to infected individuals.

As explained in the Order, the creation of the HPN is intended to enhance the state's existing ability to maintain open and active communications with essential individuals and facilities, to prevent against the spread of Ebola and any similar threat, to avoid imminent peril to the public, and to promote early identification and prevent potential for an outbreak.

The Order enlists the participation of individuals and organizations in thirty (30) key areas of public health service. The network will be comprised of two (2) groupings. Individuals in the first twenty-seven (27) areas listed will need to provide DHEC with an email address that will enable them to receive one-way communications of public health importance, to include information, guidance, and instruction from DHEC. The second grouping consists of three (3) primary areas, including 911 operators, EMTs, and primary care physician offices. This group will be required to provide a facility name, designee name, position, email address, and phone number. This category of registration will allow DHEC to request and receive information related to Ebola preparedness.

All individuals and entities listed in the Order must monitor and respond to notifications and requests from DHEC within 24 hours or the timeframe specified in the communication.

According to DHEC Director Catherine Templeton, "The problem is twofold. First, there are dozens of listservs for different health care providers and first responders, but they are held by associations and other entities - so communicating directly and immediately has not been an option. Second, even though we have historically coordinated with the owners of all the listservs, we cannot ensure that the lists are complete. This Order allows DHEC to put all the emails into one database and requires those who should be receiving life saving information to enroll. Critical information to vital personnel immediately. It didn't exist in SC until today."

"I would like to thank Marcia Adams of the SC Budget and Control Board and her staff for standing this framework up in less than 48 hours."

Residents with concerns about Ebola virus should visit DHEC's Ebola webpage for the latest information, guidance and updates.

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Mark Plowden
Communications Director
mark.plowden@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.9518