Your recent editorial commending the efforts of our federal, state and local public health professionals was well deserved. The praise of the vital role played by Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman and Shawnee County health officer Gianfranco Pezzino was correct in stressing the importance of public health in the response to his pandemic. Both individuals, along with the staff of their respective agencies, and state and local emergency management agencies deserve recognition and gratitude from the residents of Shawnee County and the state of Kansas.

We should also recognize the importance of accurate and timely laboratory services provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the KDHE lab and private providers. In addition, we must acknowledge the sacrifices and work of those caring for the ill, providing essential medical services, and keeping the shelves stocked.

As a former director of environment at KDHE and a senior executive at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7, I had the privilege of working with Pezzino, other public health professionals, and state and local emergency management staff in a number of stressful and demanding situations. It is important everyone, especially state and county elected officials and policymakers, recognize there will be new public health challenges when this pandemic has passed.

We must commit to continuing and increasing support for the work of KDHE, the adjutant general and Shawnee County Health Department and Emergency Management. The bottom line is we need to devote sufficient resources to meet the next challenge.

Restocking critical supplies and equipment, hiring and retaining qualified staff, developing and expanding laboratory capabilities, and comprehensive response planning actions are crucial to being prepared for the next challenge.

Ronald F. Hammerschmidt, Topeka