Written by Colin Wood
The monkey virus has “overwhelmed” the outdated technological infrastructure of some local health states in Washington, further straining a workforce that state health officials have felt burned out for two and a half years in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. .
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does MPV Delayed condition In the year As of Aug. 1, the virus has caused dozens of other diseases and state and local health administrations are responsible for monitoring. Elizabeth Perez, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Health, said it has created an additional burden on local health officials around the country.
“Introduction is through local health departments and local health departments can get overwhelmed very quickly,” she told StatScope.
Before joining Washington State in 2011, Perez The covid epidemic She said she sometimes sent out 300 faxes a day to the offices of the Environmental Health Agency in Harris County, Texas, which surrounds Houston.
According to Michelle Campbell, director of the Washington Department of Health’s new Office of Information Systems and Modernization, the MPV, which is the most difficult to transmit from Covid-19 and has generated very few cases, has increased the administrative burden on local health offices.
“When the guidelines from the CDC came out for the MPV interview questions, they included 150 new variables that weren’t in our core surveillance system,” she says.
Campbell said Washington’s disease reporting system is currently being upgraded to handle more linguistic and ethnic data, so the state turned to a web application called REDCap to collect data from the MPV survey. But this, she says, has also taxed local authorities who are not always experienced in using that platform or are not fully prepared for digital data collection. It has also created inconsistencies in data collection.
“Because they haven’t had time to build the infrastructure, information on the various districts affected is not being collected consistently,” Campbell said. There is a fair amount of manual work that goes into reconciling duplicates based on diagnostic and electronic lab report retrieval. That’s taking a lot of manpower and a lot of time when the staff supporting the MPV at the state and local level are all still doing the same job they were doing for the last couple of days before Covid. years. At this point, it’s really a burnt out workforce.
Campbell said the CDC is aware of these problems. And the federal agency is currently funding investment in local technology and training. CDC epidemiology and laboratory capacity grants provided billions of dollars to local health authorities during the outbreak. In June, the CDC announced its “Strengthening America’s Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Information Systems” program, which will provide nearly $4 billion for professional development and technology upgrades, including $900 million for strengthening technology and information infrastructure.
But Campbell said the new technology funding doesn’t take into account demand, and the CDC’s restrictive funding model — which allows agencies to spend each award only in narrowly defined program areas — has made it difficult to develop enterprise technology systems that naturally cover a variety of areas. Programs.
“We had to do a lot of gymnastics to make good use of our data, and the funding model didn’t really change,” she said. “We want our federal partners to take a thoughtful approach in this regard until we get the funding to support the public health organization and get things done in a sustainable way financially as well as staffing.”
The ELC grants, however, are allowing Washington state to design a new training program, hoping to fill a shortage of data-science expertise among epidemiologists who are often trained in other skills, Campbell said.
“It’s not just that the tools and different programming languages make it easier to work with big data and do analytics and gain insights. [epidemiologists] They are trained by the time they go to college,” she said. “They put more emphasis on analytics that aren’t designed for this large amount of data.”
Campbell said her office is working with the University of Washington to develop a training program to provide basic data science skills to public health officials, created in June to address the perceived lack of sophisticated technology among public health officials.
“We’re starting to lose our staff – a lot of burnout. Then you end up short-staffed,” she said. “The lack of sophisticated technology is part of that, because it requires a lot of human intervention to get the job done.”