Cost Analysis of 3 Concurrent Public Health Response Events: Financial Impact of Measles Outbreak, Super Bowl Surveillance, and Ebola Surveillance in Maricopa County

Jeffrey McCullough, Nicole Fowle, Tammy Sylvester, Melissa Kretschmer, Aurimar Ayala, Saskia Popescu, Jolie Weiss, Bob England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To generate estimates of the direct costs of mounting simultaneous emergency preparedness and response activities to respond to 3 major public health events. DESIGN: A cost analysis was performed from the perspective of the public health department using real-time activity diaries and retrospective time and activity self-reporting, wage and fringe benefit data, and financial records to track costs. SETTING: Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) in Arizona. The nation's third largest local public health jurisdiction, MCDPH is the only local health agency serving Maricopa's more than 4 000 000 residents. Responses analyzed included activities related to a measles outbreak with 2 confirmed cases, enhanced surveillance activities surrounding Super Bowl XLIX, and ongoing Ebola monitoring, all between January 22, 2015, and March 4, 2015. PARTICIPANTS: Time data were sought from all MCDPH staff who participated in activities related to any of the 3 relevant responses. In addition, time data were sought from partners at the state health department and a community hospital involved in response activities. Time estimates were received from 128 individuals (response rate 88%). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Time and cost to MCDPH for each response and overall. RESULTS: Total MCDPH costs for measles-, Super Bowl-, and Ebola-related activities from January 22, 2015, through March 4, 2015, were $224 484 (>5800 hours). The majority was for personnel ($203 743) and the costliest response was measles ($122 626 in personnel costs). In addition, partners reported working more than 700 hours for these 3 responses during this period. CONCLUSIONS: Funding for public health departments remains limited, yet public health responses can be cost- and time-intensive. To effectively plan for future public health responses, it may be necessary to share experiences and financial lessons learned from similar public health responses. External partnerships represent a key contribution for responses such as those examined. It can be expensive for local public health departments to mount effective responses, especially when multiple responses occur simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-365
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of public health management and practice : JPHMP
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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