Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Why did Texas conduct the Texas Public Health Laboratory System Assessment (TPHLSA)?

    To begin the process of defining and strengthening the public health laboratory system by bringing together system partners to develop and implement an improvement plan based on the strengths and weaknesses identified in the assessment.

  2. When did the State Public Health Laboratory System Assessment take place?

    Texas held its first laboratory system assessment on February 26 & 27, 2007.  This assessment was conducted in a public meeting over a one and a half day period.  It included participants identified by the steering committee and consisted of public health laboratory experts and partners from across the state.  Fifty-eight individuals representing organizations that play key roles in the provision of laboratory services participated in the conference. 

  3. What is the state public health laboratory system?

    The state public health laboratory system is made up of all public, private and voluntary organizations that contribute to the public’s health and well being in Texas.  A more specific definition will evolve as system partners help identify the components and complexities of the system.

  4. What is the State Public Health Laboratory System Performance Measurement Program?

    The State Public Health Laboratory System Performance Measurement Program helps users answer questions such as, “What are the components, activities, competencies, and capacities of our state public health laboratory system?” and “How well are the essential services and the Essential Public Health Laboratory Functions being provided?” The dialogue that occurs in answering these questions helps to identify system strengths and weaknesses.  This information is being used to improve and better coordinate public health laboratory activities at the state and local levels.  Additionally, the results gathered provide an understanding of how the state public health laboratory system is performing.  This information helps policymakers make better and more effective policy and resource decisions that will help improve the nation’s public health as a whole.

  5. How were individuals identified to participate in the assessment conference?

    In December 2006, Dr. Susan Neill, Director of DSHS Laboratory, was asked to participate in a pilot test of the new state public health laboratory system assessment.  Dr. Neill invited representatives from public health organizations in Texas that conduct and support laboratory activities and empowered them as a steering committee to implement Texas’ first state public health laboratory system assessment based on the National Public Health Performance Standards and the Essential Laboratory Services.

    The steering committee identified public health laboratory experts and partners from across the state to invite to participate in one or more of the ten assessment groups (based on the ten essential public health services).  The steering committee sought to keep the number of invited experts to each assessment group to approximately 15-20 individuals.

  6. Who were the steering committee members?

    The steering committee consisted of representatives from: Williamson County, Seton Hospital, City of Austin, Clinical Pathology Laboratories, Natus Medical, Inc., and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

    Members of the steering committee included:
    Marty Herrin, Williamson County, Office of Emergency Preparedness
    Shonnie Morris, Seton Hospital
    Santos Urra, City of Austin Water Utility
    Rita Broad, Clinical Pathology Laboratories
    Walter Reichert, Natus Medical, Inc.
    Susan Neill, DSHS Laboratory
    Mirsa Douglass, DSHS Laboratory
    Linda Gaul, DSHS Infection Control
    Dan Sowards, DSHS Regulatory
    Joan Aalbers, DSHS Preventive and Primary Care Unit
    Julienne Sugarek, DSHS Center for Program Coordination
    Mike Gilliam, DSHS Center for Program Coordination
    Mike Messinger, DSHS Center for Program Coordination

  7. What are the National Public Health Performance Standards?

    http://www.cdc.gov/od/ocphp/nphpsp/

  8. What are the eleven (11) Essential Public Health Laboratory Services?

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5114a1.htm

    1. Disease prevention, control, and surveillance;
    2. Integrated data management;
    3. Reference and specialized testing;
    4. Environmental health and protection;
    5. Food safety;
    6. Laboratory improvement and regulation;
    7. Policy development;
    8. Emergency response;
    9. Public health-related research;
    10. Training and education; and
    11. Partnerships and communication.

  9. What are the ten (10) Essential Public Health Services?

    http://www.cdc.gov/od/ocphp/nphpsp/EssentialPHServices.htm

    1. Monitor health status to identify community health problems;
    2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community;
    3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues;
    4. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems;
    5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts;
    6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety;
    7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable;
    8. Assure a competent public health and personal health care workforce;
    9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services; and
    10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

  10. Will there be any other activities concerning this project?

    Yes, watch this website for announcements of planning activities, meetings, or requests for information.

  11. Have there been any other assessments done in Texas using a similar assessment instrument?

    Yes.  There have been four assessments done in Texas using the National Public Health Performance Standards model. 

    1. 2002 – the local public health system assessment was conducted;
    2. 2003 – the Diabetes system assessment was conducted (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/diabetes/PDF/assessment.pdf);
    3. 2006 – state public health system assessment was conducted (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/sphsa/docs/conferencerpt092906.doc); and
    4. 2006 - the Heart Disease and Stroke public health system assessment was conducted.

  12. Who can I contact to find out more information about the TPHLSA?

    Katherine Vonalt (DSHS) at (512) 458-7111 extension 6191 or by e-mail at Katherine Vonalt.

Last Updated August 4, 2008

Last updated May 07, 2010