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New Jersey's Success

Tracking Programs Aid in Disaster Response during Hurricane Sandy *NEW*

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Hurricane Sandy Slams East Coast

Hurricane Sandy, a severe storm in October 2012, affected 24 states. The superstorm caused severe damage in many areas, especially in New Jersey, New York City, and other parts of New York State. Many communities in these areas experienced strong winds, heavy rainfall, widespread flooding, power outages, and damage to roads, bridges, buildings, and homes. As a result, millions of residents had no power, heat, or running water for multiple days during cold, fall weather. 

Right after the storm, residents of these areas faced several health risks. These risks included carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of generators or gas heaters; hypothermia from not having heat; worsening symptoms of heart and lung disease from exposure to cold temperatures; not having access to medical care; and foodborne illnesses from a lack of refrigeration caused by power outages.

Tracking Programs Play Role in Disaster Surveillance and Response Efforts

Before the storm hit NJ, the state Tracking team and its partners quickly created and activated a real-time surveillance tool to track hurricane-related emergency room visits throughout the state. Additionally, NJ added a hurricane-related data feature to EpiCenter, the state health department’s existing real-time surveillance system. 

Because of the magnitude of the storm, staying informed was critical as the state worked to allocate public health resources quickly. Dr. Jerry Fagliano of the New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program commented, “I would have preferred a less dramatic test of this tool, but Hurricane Sandy really proved the utility of EpiCenter in tracking storm-related emergency visits.”

Rapid Response Reduces Negative Public Health Effects

The efforts of the tracking staff, in partnership with other health department staff and other agencies, informed emergency and public health responses to meet residents’ needs after Hurricane Sandy. Technology, staff expertise, and strong working relationships that were built during earlier tracking program activities helped workers assess effects of the hurricane on residents and to prevent additional health effects.


Providing Useful and Easy-to-Access Data for Improved Maternal and Child Health Services

New Jersey Environmental Tracking Program Logo

Reliable Data Needed to Identify Populations in Need

The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey (The Partnership) was completing a request for funding to expand their home visitation programs. The Partnership needed to include several kinds of detailed birth data in their proposal to clearly identify the populations they wanted to serve.

Data from Tracking Network is Readily Accessible

The Partnership was able to obtain the data it needed from the NJ Tracking Network. The NJ Tracking Network provides data on births by birth weight, duration of pregnancy, race, and municipality. Since NJ’s Tracking Network had these data available online, The Partnership easily accessed the system, queried the data, and downloaded tables, charts and graphs to include in their funding proposal. Having 24-hour access to easy-to-understand data and information made it easy for The Partnership to identify, describe, and plan interventions for populations in need.

Funding Supports Needed Services for NJ Families

Because of the data available through the NJ Tracking Network, The Partnership thoroughly outlined the needs of the populations that would benefit from services provided with the funds. The Partnership was awarded $477,536 by the NJ Department of Children and Families to offer the Parents as Teachers home visitation program and the Nurse Family Partnership home visitation program. The Partnership is now able to provide home visitation services to 110 additional families in northern New Jersey. 

Naomi Savitz, Director of Quality Assurance at The Partnership notes, “I was able to download the detailed data I needed, outside of normal business hours. NJ SHAD is a really helpful tool; it makes New Jersey data accessible any time, from anywhere.”


*The New Jersey Tracking Network provides data within a system called the New Jersey State Health Assessment Data (NJ SHAD) System. Health and environmental data are provided for public health professionals, communities and interested residents.


Helping to reduce the number of children that are exposed to lead

New Jersey Environmental Tracking Program Logo

What is the problem?

Childhood lead poisoning is a problem in New Jersey, mainly because of exposure to lead-based paint. Before 1950, indoor paint had high levels of lead. In New Jersey, about 30% of housing was built before 1950. In several counties, 40–50% of the housing was built before 1950. These homes pose the highest risks for exposure to lead-based paints.

What did Tracking do?

Through a partnership with the New Jersey Tracking Network, the New Jersey Child and Adolescent Health Program now conducts more sophisticated data analyses than were previously available. Geocoding and mapping of childhood lead datasets has become routine. Childhood lead poisoning rates are now available by county, municipality, year of birth, and calendar year of lead testing. This has helped public health officials target resources where they are most needed.

Improved public health

The number of New Jersey children under age 17 who have been reported with childhood lead poisoning (greater or equal to 10 ug/dL) has decreased from 4,048 in 2005 to 1,358 in 2010. This is a 66% decrease. In the future, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) will begin to look at the distribution of blood lead levels below 10 ug/dL. This will help to continue the decrease in lead exposure among New Jersey's children.


Improving the ability to share environmental information between state agencies

Line graph of nondescript data

What is the problem?

Creating environmental datasets for public health purposes and sharing them between state agencies can be expensive, difficult, and slow. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) wanted a secure and easy way to share numerous environmental datasets with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) on an ongoing basis.

What did Tracking do?

NJDEP Tracking partners worked with other Tracking states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to design and build improvements to an existing national environmental network. The National Environmental Information Exchange Network (EN) fit their needs. EN enhancements have now made the environmental datasets more useful for public health tracking. They have expanded the information available for tracking use. These improvements allow Tracking partners in all states to share meaningful environmental data between state agencies, which was difficult to do previously.

Improved public health

The New Jersey Tracking Program now uses the EN to obtain environmental datasets. NJSHAD now analyzes and publishes these as drinking water and air quality indicators. Because of New Jersey's leadership, interagency environmental data sharing improved not only in New Jersey, but in all Tracking states. U.S. EPA is now working to make the expanded EN air monitoring and drinking water data exchange the national standard for state environmental protection agencies.


Providing information on disease rates to advocacy organizations, health planners, health care providers, and governmental agencies

Woman using laptop computer

What is the problem?

Organizations and agencies have ongoing needs for accurate timely health outcome data for the regions and populations they serve. It can be difficult to find and obtain health related data, especially data for a particular community.

What did Tracking do?

NJSHAD has become a one-stop New Jersey public health resource. Advocates for Children of New Jersey said, "we use SHAD Query to get a lot of the health related data we need, such as statistics on low infant birth weight and infant mortality. SHAD is self explanatory, and has both county and municipal level data, and you can get data by race and age-group." A consultant to New Jersey's Federally Qualified Health Centers said, "when you need to make a compelling case to document unmet needs, the data is specific and available. That can be important in a place like New Jersey, where there are huge health disparities by race, ethnicity, or education level."

Improved public health

NJ SHAD data has already made a difference. When Advocates for Children of New Jersey published NJ SHAD data as part of their annual NJ Kids Count 2010 County Profile Rankings, a low ranked county in southern New Jersey was surprised by some of their numbers. The county has responded by creating a workgroup to track and improve their county's health statistics. As stated by Advocates for Children of New Jersey, "when numbers are put in a book, you can't ignore them."


New Jersey's Grantee Profile

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