Every year, Trust for America’s Health releases a report that shows their rankings of states’ public health preparedness. Like most years, this year’s report uses a combination of measures that may or may not be under the control of state health departments to develop their state rankings. Arizona shows up in the bottom tier of this year’s report, although the report highlights a lot of the great work ADHS and other partners have done to advance preparedness over the last year.

For example, Arizona is in the top tier of states having achieved accreditation from both the Public Health Accreditation Board and the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. These recognitions illustrate the commitment of public health and emergency management agencies across the state in meeting and exceeding national standards. The report also recognizes our Arizona State Public Health Laboratory for its outstanding efforts to prepare for increases in test volume, indicating that we have the plans and procedures in place to handle a six to eight week increase in demand for laboratory testing.

Another highlight is Arizona’s participation in the Nurse Licensure Compact, an interstate agreement that allows registered nurses and licensed nurse practitioners with a single multi-state license to practice in any state that has joined the compact. This means that nurses from the other 30 participating states can practice in Arizona during a public health emergency or disaster, thereby bolstering our healthcare workforce.

Areas that dropped Arizona’s rating include things that we’re working to improve, like the percentage of Arizonans who receive a seasonal influenza shot (an estimated 38.9% of Arizonans were vaccinated during the 2017-2018 season) and the percentage of hospitals participating in healthcare coalitions (72% of Arizona hospitals are participating), but also things that fall outside of public health’s purview like the percentage of workers with access to paid time off.

Arizona has made substantial progress over the years in preparing the whole community for all types of emergencies and disasters. Staff from across our Department are dedicated to these efforts, including our Bureau of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, which has received national attention for the work they do to ensure our state is prepared. However, ADHS cannot do this alone. We continue to collaborate with a wide variety of federal, state, tribal, local, community, and private sector partners. By working together, we can sustain the great progress we have made while striving to improve Arizona’s overall preparedness.