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Health District receives recognition

As local health departments nationwide strive to protect the public from new and infectious diseases, bioterrorism, natural disasters, and other public health threats, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has recognized the Central Shenandoah Health District for its ability to respond to public health emergencies.

The Central Shenandoah Health District met the comprehensive preparedness benchmarks required by Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a unique partnership between NACCHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michael Keatts, district emergency planner, and Jonathan Falk, district epidemiologist, spearheaded the yearlong submission process.

“We are proud to have been recognized by Project Public Health Ready for our high level of preparedness,” said G. Douglas Larsen, MD, director of the Central Shenandoah Health District. “This recognition is a testament to our ongoing public health emergency preparedness efforts which are done in close cooperation with our local jurisdictions, hospitals and other community response partners. We will continue to improve our ability to quickly and effectively respond to any public health crisis occurring within any of the cities or counties throughout our health district.”

The Central Shenandoah Health District is comprised of the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham, and the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro.

“I commend the Central Shenandoah Health District for being recognized as a model of public health emergency preparedness and joining many other Virginia Health Districts as a ‘Public Health Ready’ entity,” notes Dr. Marissa Levine, deputy commissioner for Public Health & Preparedness at the Virginia Department of Health. “Virginians are fortunate to have the Central Shenandoah Health District and the other health districts in the state reach this level of emergency readiness. Becoming “Public Health Ready” is a testament to the community effort needed to attain such a recognition,” Levine adds.

Local health departments recognized by PPHR undergo a thorough evaluation process by peer review. PPHR required the Central Shenandoah Health District to meet expectations in public health preparedness in three key areas: preparedness planning; workforce competency; and demonstration of all-hazards readiness through exercises or a response to a real event. The recognition confirms that the Central Shenandoah Health District has an emergency response plan in place, the plan is connected to other jurisdictional emergency response plans, agency staff members are trained and the plan is exercised and used during public health emergencies.

For more information on all Project Public Health Ready recognized sites and project tools and resources, go to

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