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August 23, 2019

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Jim Monarski (right), regional safety officer for Ascension, demonstrates an ISOPOD  to participants of a tabletop exercise on measles preparedness at Ascension St. Mary’s in Rhinelander Friday, June 21.
Submitted photo

Jim Monarski (right), regional safety officer for Ascension, demonstrates an ISOPOD to participants of a tabletop exercise on measles preparedness at Ascension St. Mary’s in Rhinelander Friday, June 21.
6/29/2019 7:30:00 AM
Increase in measles cases leads to community tabletop exercise at Ascension St. Mary's Hospital

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,000 cases of measles have been confirmed in 28 states from Jan. 1 through mid-June.

This represents the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000, according to an Ascension Wisconsin press release.

As the result of this increase, a multi-jurisdictional group of community health and other organizations gathered at Ascension St. Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander June 21 for a tabletop exercise on measles.

Twenty-four representatives from 14 area agencies participated in the discussion which focused on three possible scenarios where suspected cases of measles could impact the community.

"Preparation to respond to any event no matter the size or scope starts with talking about it," noted Jim Monarski, safety officer for Ascension Wisconsin's facilities in the Northwoods. "This tabletop exercise led to some valuable collaborative discussion from participants."

From a simulated suspected measles case at a summer camp to potential patients accessing health care facilities at an emergency department or clinic, the three-phased tabletop exercise focused on initial response and things to consider for each organization when it comes to measles.

"I think everyone who participated was able to identify some strengths as well as things to work on for their organization when it comes to measles and that is what we hope to accomplish by holding these tabletop exercises," added Monarski.

The exercise concluded with Monarski demonstrating an Isopod (isolation transport unit) which would be used by EMS agencies to transport a person suspected of having measles who needed medical transport to another location.

The organizations that participated in the exercise included Ascension, Ascension St. Mary's Hospital, Camp Interlaken, Camp Manito-Wish YMCA, Flambeau Hospital, Howard Young Medical Center, part of Ascension; Lincoln County Health Department, Oneida County EMS, Oneida County Public Health Department, Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program, Wisconsin Immunization Registry, Vilas County Public Health, Vilas County Sheriff's Department.

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