Lab Matters Spring 2017 - Page 29

public health preparedness and response Minnesota Department of Health Helps Labs Improve Biosafety and Biosecurity by Michael Marsico, MS, specialist, Biosafety and Biosecurity Maureen Sullivan speaks to attendees in St. Paul at the MDH Regional Laboratory Conference on Biosafety Competencies A s APHL strives to improve the fundamentals of biosafety and biosecurity across the country, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) continues to be an important member of that movement. Between December 2016 and February 2017, Minnesota convened the MDH Regional Laboratory Conferences, six identical conferences focused on biosafety, biosecurity and risk assessments. Utilizing metrics from surveys sent out in Fall 2016 to Minnesota clinical laboratories regarding their capabilities, MDH proposed the conferences this year with the aim of increasing biosafety awareness for laboratory workers. Eric Lundquist, MDH Biosafety Outreach Coordinator, and Maureen Sullivan, MDH Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit supervisor and APHL Public Health Preparedness and Response committee member, facilitated the conference. L  ab techs are doing the best with what they have, and are definitely concerned when we point out ways that some practices are unsafe. We are giving them not only the proper training, but resources that enable them to make their practices safer. “Lab techs are doing the best with what they have, and are definitely concerned when we point out ways that some practices are unsafe,” said Lundquist. “We are giving them not only the proper training, but resources that enable them to make their practices safer.” Future Plans Post-conference survey results revealed that some attendees had not been trained in personal protective equipment procedures and biosafety cabinet operation, and there were many who lacked experience conducting laboratory risk assessments. Using the survey results, MDH will work on continuing outreach and education of laboratory staff. They plan on conducting audio conferences and “Lunch-and-Learns” on risk assessment and whole genome sequencing to reach a larger audience. After the conferences, a Minnesota healthcare system reached out to MDH with a request for Eric and Maureen to give similar biosafety and biosecurity presentations to their staff in June. Planning for next year is currently underway, with the MDH team collaborating with infection control epidemiologists who attended their training to do combined conferences. If you would like more information on these conferences or on APHL’s Biosafety and Biosecurity program, please email biosafety@aphl.org. Six Conferences, Five Cities, 120 Attendees Reached Conferences were held in St. Paul, Duluth, Alexandria, Bemidji and Mankato with 120 attendees from over 70 different laboratories. The courses were specifically targeted for the clinical laboratorians in Minnesota, but other attendees included infection control epidemiologists, safety specialists not located in the clinical setting and veterinary laboratorians. Topics included an overview of the Laboratory Response Network, fundamentals of biosafety and biosecurity, packaging and shipping and performing risk assessments. Interactive group exercise sessions covered six different packaging and shipping scenarios using glow germ to highlight potential routes of exposure in the laboratory. Utilizing presen tations and hands-on sessions, attendees learned a detailed approach to improving their laboratory’s biosafety and biosecurity programs. PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org MDH staff traveled to five different cities (St. Paul, Duluth, Alexandria, Bemidji, and Mankato) in Minnesota for six regional laboratory conferences on Biosafety and Biosecurity Spring 2017 LAB MATTERS 27