UAMS gets $1.7 million fed grant for bioterrorism prep

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences won a $1.7 million federal grant Friday that will fund a program to train health professionals to act in the event of a bioterrorism attack. The award, a share of $26.6 million awarded in 23 states, was the second-largest given to a single campus. The University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston received $1.8 million. The large award for a smaller state like Arkansas was due in part to the extensive networking that already exists in its continuing education system, said Dr. Charles Cranford, vice chancellor of regional programs at UAMS. “We have an organization in place already for the delivery of this kind of program,” Cranford said. “There are not many states that have as good an outreach network as we do at UAMS. “Even though we are a small state, I think that we got this much because they believe that we could put together a good model program for delivering continuing education on bioterrorism throughout the state.” Many Arkansas hospitals and health centers are already linked via video teleconferencing to the academic center at UAMS. And Arkansas has a couple of sites that could be potential terrorist targets, Cranford said, such as the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant near Russellville and the Pine Bluff Arsenal. The new grant will be just part of the state’s federal funding for preparing to respond to a terrorist attack. For 2003, the state also will receive $11.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $5.1 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The latest grant will provide training for doctors, nurses and emergency medical workers throughout the state. “Where we might target physicians who, say, were involved in our smallpox response [plan],” said Donnie Smith, bioterrorism team leader for the Arkansas Department of Health, “this would look at all physicians as being the target [audience]. … This would be an excellent forum for them to receive training.” The length of the course work has not yet been determined. “These are going to be intensive courses,” said Cranford. “These are not just scattered one hour here, one hour there.”

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