PA 08-134—sSB 496

Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS

SUMMARY: This act:

1. allows the Department of Public Health (DPH), during a governor-declared public health or civil preparedness emergency, to temporarily suspend license renewal and inspection requirements and functions;

2. specifies that health care worker and facility licenses do not lapse during the emergency;

3. adds out-of-state water system operators to those practitioners who can work in Connecticut during an emergency; and

4. allows emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to use nerve agent antidote auto injectors to treat the general public in an emergency.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008

DECLARATION OF A CIVIL PREPAREDNESS OR PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

Suspension of License Renewal Requirements

If a civil preparedness or public health emergency is declared under the law, the act allows the DPH commissioner to suspend license renewal requirements for any license that would otherwise have to be renewed. By law, “license” includes the whole or part of any agency permit, certificate, approval, registration, charter, or similar form of permission required by law, but does not include a license required solely for revenue purposes.

Under the act, the license renewal suspension period may continue for the duration of the declared emergency and for the six-month period after the emergency ends. Any license not renewed by DPH during this time does not expire. Not later than six months after the emergency is declared over, the commissioner must reinstate the suspended license renewal requirements. A license not renewed within six months of this reinstatement expires. The commissioner may extend this time period for good cause, but may grant no more than two 90-day extensions.

If DPH renews a license on a date other than the customary renewal date, the licensure period must not extend beyond the customary renewal date provided according to law. At the time of renewal, the licensee is responsible for paying all license fees, including those not collected by DPH because of the license renewal suspension period.

Suspension of Inspection Requirements

The act allows the DPH commissioner to suspend inspections required by department statutes or regulations if a public health or civil preparedness emergency is declared under the law. The suspension period is the same as outlined above for license renewal suspensions. By the end of the six-month period following the end of the emergency, DPH must conduct any inspections not done during the emergency and six-month follow-up period. Inspections must be completed within six months from the date they resumed unless the commissioner extends the time. He may grant up to two 90-day extensions for good cause.

Under the act, DPH can suspend its license renewal and inspection responsibilities only after the Governor, according to law, (1) issues an order that modifies or suspends, in whole or in part, any statute, regulation or requirement relating to license renewals and DPH inspections and (2) specifies the reasons for such action.

Out-of-State Health Care Providers Allowed to Work in an Emergency

Existing law allows various health care practitioners licensed, certified, or registered in another state, territory, or the District of Columbia, to work in Connecticut during a declared public health emergency. They can work only within the scope of their practice as permitted by Connecticut law. The law allows the DPH commissioner to suspend, for up to 60 consecutive days, state licensing, certification, or registration requirements that apply to them. Prior law covered emergency medical personnel, physicians and physician assistants, physical therapists, nurses and nurse's aides, respiratory care practitioners, psychologists, marital and family therapists, clinical social workers, professional counselors, pharmacists, paramedics, embalmers and funeral directors, sanitarians, and asbestos contractors and consultants.

The act adds certified operators of water treatment plants or water distribution systems to this list.

NERVE AGENT ANTIDOTE MEDICATIONS

By law, any paid or volunteer firefighter, police officer, or EMS personnel successfully completing a training course in the use of automatic prefilled cartridge injectors containing nerve agent antidote medications can carry and use them for self or unit preservation in the event of nerve agent exposure.

The act allows EMS personnel to use them for treating the general public in an emergency.

BACKGROUND

Public Health Emergency

A “public health emergency” under the law, is an occurrence or imminent threat of a communicable disease, except sexually transmitted disease, or contamination caused or believed to be caused by bioterrorism, an epidemic or pandemic disease, a natural disaster, a chemical attack, or accidental release or a nuclear attack or accident that poses a substantial risk of a significant number of human fatalities or incidents of permanent or long-term disability (CGS 19a-131).

The law authorizes the governor to declare a statewide or regional public health emergency after she makes a good faith effort to inform legislative leaders. The governor's declaration must state the nature of the emergency, the towns or geographic areas subject to the declaration, the conditions that create the emergency, how long it will last, and the public health authority responding to the emergency. The governor's declaration takes effect when filed with the secretary of state and the House and Senate clerks (CGS 19a-131a).

Civil Preparedness Emergency

By law, the governor may proclaim that a state of civil preparedness emergency exists in the event of serious disaster, enemy attack, sabotage, or other hostile action or if the event is imminent. In such a case, the governor can personally take direct operational control of any or all parts of the civil preparedness forces and functions in the state. Such a proclamation is effective upon filing with the secretary of the state (CGS 28-9).

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