On an assessment of its preparedness for health emergencies, North Dakota scores just above the national average.
The 2019 National Health Security Preparedness Index, which is compiled annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, scored North Dakota as a 6.8 out of 10. The country as a whole scored 6.7. Glen Mays, a professor of health policy at the University of Kentucky, leads a team of researchers in developing the index. He says over 129 different factors are analyzed to determine a state's preparedness - including the safety of its public infrastructure, prevalence of hazard planning in schools, and the number of paramedics and hospitals. North Dakota improved in six of seven different areas, with one topic - healthcare delivery - being its only decline in score on the index. North Dakota's score in 2013 was 5.1, while in 2019 it was 4.4. The national average was 4.9.
"Emergency medical service agencies within the state that are regularly submitting data to the National EMS Information System - that has trended downward over time, and that's an important information system for ambulances and other first responders to monitor how well they're doing and they're responding. Access to hospital-based trauma centers has declined a bit over time as well, so access to specialized care for people who have experienced trauma as a result of emergency events. Access to specialized hospital facilities for infection control has also declined in the state of North Dakota."
Mays says the Index can help stakeholders improve North Dakota's standings by determining what areas need improvement and what can be done to make positive changes.