2020 Year in Review: Protecting and promoting the health of all Floridians

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TALLAHASSEE — In 2020, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has made strides in protecting public health. From responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to continuing to provide wellness programs for all Floridians, FDOH has provided critical services in all 67 counties.

“This year, the men and women of the Florida Department of Health have truly shown their commitment to the health of all Floridians,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “It is crucial that we remain vigilant in these efforts and I am confident that, under the leadership of Dr. Rivkees, the department will continue fighting to protect and promote the health of everyone in the state.”

“This year has brought a number of unique challenges and the Florida Department of Health has risen to the occasion to meet each one,” said Florida Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees. “The successes we have accomplished are a direct reflection of the people in the Department who have gone above and beyond to meet each challenge. I am blessed to work with such dedicated individuals.”

Accomplishments and successful outcomes that advanced public health in Florida for 2020 includes the following:
Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
• Provided $16,289,732 in CDC grant funding to county health departments to coordinate local preparedness activities.
• Coordinated strike teams to mitigate long-term care facility outbreaks in support of the COVID-19 response.
• Coordinated with health care practitioners to donate personal protective equipment (PPE) to local hospitals, long-term care facilities, congregate living facilities, pharmacies, and community testing sites in critical need of PPE.
• Supported County Health Departments in responding to questions about COVID-19, monitoring testing methods, and identifying key local resources to support mobile teams for long-term care facilities.
• Partnered with regulated entities, stakeholders, and the public to increase the availability of qualified medical personnel and facilities by expediting the application and licensure processes.
• Expanded the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories Web Portal to allow providers to electronically order laboratory tests and retrieve results with the added functionality of mobile kits that enable providers to electronically order COVID-19 tests in remote locations, eliminating the need for paper order forms and reducing test report turnaround times.
• The Bureau of Public Health Laboratories have performed 293,173 COVID-19 tests to support Florida testing with a turnaround testing time of less than 2 days.
• Office of Rural Health leveraged federal grants to support the telemedicine and COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment needs of Florida’s Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) with each CAHs receiving a HIPPA compliant, telemedicine platform to safely respond to and manage COVID-19 patients.
• Developed and maintained Florida’s COVID-19 Response website to reflect current data, reports, recommendations, frequently asked questions and other information. This information is also available in Spanish and Haitian Creole languages.
• Developed and distributed over 200 different educational resources and public service announcements addressing COVID-19. These materials have also been made available in Spanish and Haitian Creole languages.
• Distributed 43,120 doses of Remdisivir to Florida facilities between May 4 and June 29 in support of the COVID-19 response.
• Coordinated the distribution of more than 3,800 doses of Bamlamnivmab to date.

Public health activities
• Launched a new statewide youth electronic cigarette prevention campaign called Textimonials featuring real testimonials from five different young e-cigarette users told in the language they speak – texting.
• Launched pilot projects to address the opioid epidemic in seven counties including community paramedicine projects in Clay and Marion Counties and school-based collaborative projects in Brevard, Manatee, Nassau, Pasco and Sarasota counties.
• Created a mental health/suicide profile report for each county accessible to the public on FLHealthCHARTS.
• Directed the State Public Health (ESF8) Response for Hurricanes Laura, Sally and Eta.
• The Florida Newborn Screening Program added three conditions to the state screening panel. Florida now screens for 57 conditions, allowing newborns to get the interventions needed in order to increase their chances of a healthy life.
• Approximately, 275,000 newborns in Florida were screened for certain genetic, endocrine, hemoglobinopathy, immunology, and metabolic conditions.
• Provided 160,675,882 meals to Florida children through the Child Care Food Program.
• Increased the number of participants in the National Diabetes Prevention Program in Florida from 8,355 in July 2017 to 38,664 in October 2020.
• Coordinated 24 quality improvement projects across 13 children’s hospitals and medical schools in partnership with the National Institute for Child Health Quality (NICHQ). These projects, representing seven specific chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, HIV), resulted in the formation of statewide networks focused on access to care and healthcare quality.
• Provided 25,692,840 school health services in Florida’s K-12 public schools.
• Launched EndTeenVaping.gov to provide stakeholders with materials to educate youth about vaping.
• Established five State University partnerships to increase access to pediatric mental health services with the use of evidenced based practices to improve skills of primary care providers to identify and treat common pediatric mental health conditions and increase children and their families’ access to such care through telehealth consultation services.
• The HIV Section medical staff increased the use of telehealth for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis initiation (PrEP), called TelePrEP. This approach allows HIV-negative individuals with indications for PrEP to seek medical assistance without waiting on an appointment at the county health department or other provider office.
• Staff in county health departments conducted 9,187 chronic hepatitis panels and administered 8,119 hepatitis A and B vaccinations in January through October 2020.
• During fiscal year 2019-2020, 212 community and faith-based clinics and organizations reported that the Volunteer Health Care Provider Program had a total of 13,430 licensed health care professionals and 8,591 non-licensed volunteers providing 421,412 health care services to eligible individuals. The value of health-related goods and services provided to Florida’s citizens through the program totaled more than $300 million.
• The Florida Poison Information Center Network triaged and managed a total of 104,256 poison-related cases with 122,023 follow-up calls. The services contributed to decreased emergency department visits by managing exposures via phone and co-managing poison cases with health care providers.
• Successfully launched the first year of the Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The total three-year investment from the CDC grant is $58.8 million.
• The Office of Contracts, Contract Monitoring Unit increased the monitoring reporting compliance rate from 9% to 46% within a short span of time (2-4 months).
• The HEROS Program provided 55,180 doses of naloxone to 151 agencies that employ emergency responders.
• FLHealthCHARTS.com, a comprehensive data source for reviewing community-level health data, received almost 4 million visits, an increase of 19 percent from 2019.
• Department awarded reaccreditation with the Public Health Accreditation Board for an additional five-year period.
• Department of Health was recognized by the American Registry of Radiological Technologists (AART) as an approver of continuing education for radiologic professionals; the first state licensing agency in the nation to complete the new ARRT recognition process.
• Trained 644 statewide first responders in radiation detection, recognition of possible radiation threats and response.
• Performed more than 450 hours of radiation sweeps and monitoring to protect attendees from possible radiological and nuclear threats during Superbowl LIV “week” in Miami.
• Awarded $5,645,794 from the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to health care coalitions across the state to build local preparedness and response capacity.
• The Trauma Section, in partnership with the Florida Trauma System Advisory Council, published its first tri-annual statutorily mandated assessment of the state’s trauma system.
• Implemented the Compliance Licensing Enforcement and Regulatory system to streamline the regulatory activities for the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. The system eliminates the use or paper through electronic submission, review and approval of licensee requests while creating efficiencies through real-time notifications and tracking.
• Implemented the Customer Service Representative system to centralize all calls related information from Medical Marijuana Use Registry patients and caregivers to improve customer support.
• On Oct. 19, 2020, Florida registered the first autonomous practicing Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), authorized by House Bill 607 (2020), increasing access to health care services.
• Launched the Enforcement Licensure and Information (ELI) chatbot (an artificial intelligence platform) to provide customers with not only immediate answers to common questions but also an automated transfer to “live” Department staff to address the more complex. ELI is currently available to visitors to the Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Chiropractic Medicine, and Respiratory Care Board websites.
• Decreased number of schedule II through schedule V opioid prescriptions dispensed to patients by 5.5% decrease from 13,620,673 in FY2018-2019 to 12,865,409 in FY2019-2020.
• Responded to 109.5 million queries from prescribers, dispensers, and their designees through the web portal and EHR integrations during FY2019-2020.
• Shared PDMP data with 29 other State PDMPs and the Military Health Service and responded to 21.8 million interstate queries.
• The Primary Care Office completed the 2020 Annual Physician Workforce Report which indicates that the percentage of minority physicians in Florida has been steadily increasing since 2010 from 38% to 44%. The number and percentage of female physicians is also increasing and for physicians under age 40, the percentage of female physicians is 46%.

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