Emergencies can have a major impact on public health given an exposure to a high level of contagion and its means of transmission, potentially causing panic and social disruption. Public health planning and response requires multi-agency/multi-jurisdictional coordination as events often overlap geopolitical boundaries.
In times of a public health emergency, the Metro Health Director id appointed as the Bexar County Health Authority, an officer of the state with duties defined by law under Health and Safety Code 121.021 – 121.029. A Health Authority has the power to investigate suspected incidents and outbreaks of communicable disease.
The Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act is a comprehensive statute – codified as Chapter 81, Texas Health and Safety Code – that provides control measures to protect the public health such as:
- Preventative Therapy
Texas Law allows Control Measures to be imposed on individuals, property, municipalities and common carriers. As part of the National Response Plan, Emergency Services Function (8) Health/Medical, the PHEP Division is responsible for all Health/Medical Response activities within a given jurisdiction.
- Strategic National Stockpile (bio-terrorism, chem-terrorism, radiological, emerging infectious disease)
- Natural disasters (flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes)
In an effort to respond rapidly to a large-scale public health event, Metro Health coordinates with all first responder and emergency coordinating agencies at the local, regional, state and federal levels. To minimize cost and maximize resources, Metro Health, in conjunction with the Texas Department of State Health Services Region 8, initiated the Medical Volunteers Coordinating Committee to oversee volunteer management, and implemented agreements with private companies, universities and colleges, independent school districts, nonprofit and faith-based organizations.