HHS team to help co­or­di­nate emer­gency re­cov­ery ef­forts in Flint

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has tapped HHS to help lead the fed­eral co­or­di­na­tion of emer­gency re­cov­ery ef­forts to deal with con­tam­i­nated wa­ter in Flint, Mich., the agency an­nounced last week.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama de­clared a fed­eral emer­gency but not a ma­jor dis­as­ter in Flint. That de­ter­mi­na­tion frees $5 mil­lion in im­me­di­ate aid with the pos­si­bil­ity of more as­sis­tance, for which the pres­i­dent would need to alert Congress.

HHS is work­ing with the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, which has been help­ing Gov. Rick Sny­der’s ad­min­is­tra­tion co­or­di­nate with other fed­eral agen­cies.

“The goal of the fed­eral re­sponse will be to help state and lo­cal lead­ers iden­tify the size and scope of the prob­lem, and work with them to make and ex­e­cute a plan for mit­i­ga­tion of the short- and long-term health ef­fects of lead ex­po­sure,” de­part­ment Deputy Sec­re­tary Mary Wake­field said. An HHS team was ex­pected last week in Flint.

Flint’s wa­ter has had el­e­vated lev­els of lead af­ter cor­ro­sive Flint River wa­ter caused lead con­nec­tions to leech into the city’s drink­ing wa­ter. In mid-Oc­to­ber, Flint switched back to Detroit’s sys­tem of us­ing Lake Huron for drink­ing wa­ter, but state of­fi­cials still con­sider Flint’s drink­ing wa­ter un­safe. (See re­lated story, p. 32).

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