Lab Matters Summer 2024 | Page 33


Southeast ColLABorators Convene Regional Consortium In-Person Tabletop Exercise

By Marie-Claire Rowlinson , PhD , D ( ABMM ), chief , Bacterial Diseases , Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratories ; Matt Johnson , division director , Kentucky Division of Laboratory Services ; and Tina Su , MPH , manager , Quality Systems and Analytics
On February 21 – 22 , the Southeast ColLABorators ( SEC ) convened an in-person meeting at the Alabama Bureau of Clinical Laboratories to conduct a tabletop preparedness exercise with components that follows up on the virtual tabletop exercise that was completed by the SEC in April 2021 . This meeting was supported by APHL funding focused on regional consortia quality improvement activities and strengthening capabilities .
The meeting participants worked through three public health scenarios :
Newborn Screening
Led by Denise Pettit from the North Carolina Public Health Laboratory , the scenario posed involved a stolen laptop and a cyberattack . The group discussed which laboratory staff should be notified , what specific questions would need to be addressed by the laboratory ’ s information technology team , and how to ensure the continuity of the newborn screening program during this breach . As action items , the SEC laboratories will use the resources and discussion to update their newborn screening continuity of operations plans . Each state will investigate details of backing up their newborn screening LIMS and refreshing or restoring from the backup .
Arbovirus Epidemic
Lea Heberlein from the Florida Public Health Laboratory helped participants consider a scenario involving travelers arriving into Florida from South America with yellow fever and local transmission without any travel history . The SEC laboratories discussed how their laboratories would work together and what resources are available for each state . The group also agreed to update their surge plans .
To prepare for future unexpected challenges , tabletop exercises are crucial for public health laboratories to test and improve their emergency response plans in a simulated scenario . They allow for identifying weaknesses in the plan , as well as practice for communication and coordination within their regional consortia . It is important to revisit these plans regularly , especially after the COVID-19 response to ensure that the plan is as up-to-date as possible .
As a result of this meeting , the following takeaways were identified : creation of a survey that each member state will complete listing the number and type of LDTs performed in the PHL , which may lead to future regionalization of these LDTs ; increased ELC funding requests for yellow fever or other arboviral diseases ; and updating the PHLSD . A final point of interest was the tour of the new Alabama Laboratory , as several laboratories in the SEC are looking to renovate or build . g
Holding this exercise in person enhanced the engagement of the participants and provided greater opportunity for each to provide direct input .
Laboratory Developed Tests ( LDTs )
The group led by Kara Levinson from the Tennessee Public Health Laboratory , discussed potential scenarios if the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) enforcement of LDTs is eliminated and how it would impact diagnostic , surveillance and emergency response testing and organizational structure and budget . To capture information about LDTs , there will be a discussion about how to best capture which tests in the Public Health Laboratory System Database ( PHLSD ) are LDTs .
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