Strengthening State Epidemiology Labs

Awards of $48.8 million to bolster epidemiology, laboratory, and health information systems in the  health departments of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, the District of Columbia, New York City, Los AngelesCounty, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Houston have been announced by HHS. The awards include $45.4 million in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) Prevention and Public Health Fund resources and $3.4 million in annual appropriations. The $45.4 million in ACA Prevention and Public Health Fund resources include $35.3 million for epidemiology-laboratory capacity, $9.3 million for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), and $0.8 million for immunization.

These awards, along with Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity program support, will assist health departments to improve disease reporting and monitoring by hiring and training staff, investing in information technology, and buying laboratory equipment and supplies for diagnosing emerging pathogens. Additional information about the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreements (ELC) can be accessed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The ELC was formed in 1995 as a key component of CDC’s national strategy to address emerging infectious disease threats.  

HAIs awards. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive funding to carry out strategies to protect patients from HAIs, with 16 states receiving funding to prevent HAIs across the spectrum of health care by building multi-facility prevention initiatives. The CDC presently works with state health departments to improve HAI tracking and prevention by implementing successful prevention strategies within the entire state and tracking the impact of that strategy across all hospitals. State Prevention Collaboratives, consisting of multiple hospitals within a state, target a infection as a team, implement prevention strategies through culture change, share experiences between facilities, measure their progress as a group, and provide feedback to clinicians and staff. The 16 states receiving HAI funding are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin. 

Electronic health record awards. In addition, 49 states, five large cities, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive funds to develop and sustain capacity to participate in meaningful use of electronic health records. Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, and New Mexico also will receive funding to advance the national implementation of electronic laboratory records specifically addressing HAIs. 

Epidemiology and laboratory awards. Finally, all 50 states, theDistrict of Columbia, the five largest cities, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Palau will receive funds for the continued support of flexible, cross-cutting public health epidemiology and laboratory staff, equipment, supplies, travel, and training to sustain and improve their capacity to detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases.