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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: October 19, 2012


The Delaware Division of Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) was selected by the 2012 Laboratory Response Network (LRN) National Meeting Planning Committee as the winner of the "2012 Award for Outstanding Sentinel Clinical Laboratory Training Program." The sentinel laboratories are health care microbiology labs that serve on the front line of detecting public health threats caused by agents of bioterrorism or newly emerging infectious diseases. The Outstanding Sentinel Training Program award is given to a state that has been involved in outreach to sentinel labs and first responders, and provides training for biosafety and detection methods, as well as constantly working to improve the sentinel training program. Sentinel laboratories in Delaware have the potential to handle materials that may contain agents that threaten the public's health.

The LRN is a national network established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consisting of more than 150 laboratories able to detect, confirm, and report potential bioterrorism agents. This network was created as part of the government bioterrorism response program to interconnect a system of laboratories, and provide standardized testing in response to bioterrorism events. Having standardized testing is important because these cases have the potential to be subject to legal action. The network includes clinical, state public health, selected federal and military, and international laboratories. Membership is not automatic. Prospective labs must have the equipment, trained personnel, properly designed facilities, and demonstrate testing accuracy. State laboratory directors collectively determine the criteria for inviting sentinel labs to join the LRN.

"The Delaware Public Health Laboratory has worked hard to collaborate with our sentinel clinical laboratories in the state," said Christina Pleasanton, DPHL acting director. "We are delighted that our efforts are being recognized by the Laboratory Response Network and the Association of Public Health Laboratories."

Since 2002, the Delaware sentinel training program has centered its activities on providing tools, education, and experience with collection, identification, packaging, shipping, and documentation of clinical specimens that could contain bioterrorism agents or infectious diseases in a public health emergency. DPHL utilizes a variety of training platforms ranging from traditional classroom training to teleconferences as well as video conferences to ensure that our sentinel partners receive needed routine and preparedness training. The training also includes notification procedures, recommended handling practices, documentation, results interpretation, as well as a hands-on and written examination. In partnership with the training academy at the Delaware State Fire School, DPHL have expanded this program to include non-clinical partners, such as first responders and civil support teams, as well as other clinical laboratories in Maryland and Florida unable to attend their home state training programs.

"This important award recognizes the effort of DPHL to ensure a functional and effective network of laboratories in Delaware, fully equipped to respond quickly to acts of chemical or biological terrorism, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division of Public Health director.

The 2012 Award for Outstanding Sentinel Clinical Laboratory Training Program was presented to DPHL at the LRN National Meeting October 10, 2012 in Denver, CO. The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) is a non-profit membership organization in the U.S. representing the laboratories that protect the health and safety of the public. APHL serves as a liaison between laboratories and federal and international agencies, and ensures that the network of laboratories has current and consistent scientific information in order to be ready for outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

For more information about the public health laboratory and its programs, go to:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.