Health Center Staff In Lead Role Preparing Their Campuses for Pandemic Flu

This kind of might sound like the plot of the next blockbuster movie. A 3rd of the world’s population is struck down with a deadly virus that advances across the globe so rapidly there is no time to develop a vaccine. Up to 1 / 2 of those infected – even young, healthy people – die. But since health professionals know, this scenario is not simply a flight of fancy. This could be the very real effects of the next pandemic flu break out, particularly if H5N1 (also known as highly pathogenic avian flu) is the virus in question, and it is this knowledge that is pushing not simply federal and state federal government but organizations and businesses all over the world to develop a strategy to tackle it. dr. david samadi

Within colleges and schools, the burden of outbreak flu planning may land after many student health directors, even at organizations with environmental health insurance and security departments. John Covely, a consultant on pandemic flu virus planning and the co-author of the University of North Carolina at Church Hill’s pandemic plan, points out why this is so. 

“Traditionally, emergency planning arises from public safety, or environment health and safety, but a communicable disease postures the greatest threat to students in group quarters. As a result, student health directors are often leading the urgent planning effort for the whole university, because the complete plan – not merely trainees health component – could possibly be the difference in life or death for their students. ”

The value of having a campus-wide plan that is ready – not merely in the initial stages – when the pandemic strikes is all a lot more clear when you consider that, unlike in season flu, H5N1 posseses an increased risk for the typical student demographic of young, healthy adults. The amazingly high mortality rate of up to 60 percent is partly due to a protein, also available in the strain of virus in charge of the 1918 pandemic flu outbreak, which causes a response in a healthy immune system known as a “cytokine storm”, often leading to respiratory failure and fatality.

Planning such a large and yet unpredictable event may seem to be a strong task, but Doctor Anita Barkin, chair of the American College Health Association’s pandemic planning committee, counsels that those universities and colleges which may have yet to formulate a pandemic plan shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the work that is placed before them. “Pandemic planning is about good urgent preparedness. The things we do to get ready for any emergency are the things we would do to prepare for pandemic flu virus, ” she explains.

Even though the tragic Virginia Technology shootings this spring were a different kind of emergency, the issues are similar to the difficulties encountered in the event of a pandemic flu episode. Coordinating resources, communicating with everyone on campus and deciding at what level classes should be called off are questions that contain to be answered in most emergency situations. Consider your pandemic planning little by little, advises Barkin.

“The very first step is to determine whether there may be an existing emergency plan on grounds, ” she says. “If there is certainly, who is in charge of it? Overall health providers on campus should then take charge and commence to formulate the plan. inches

There are many unknown factors, but build the framework of the plan first with the elements you can be certain of. Form a committee with all key areas represented, including exec leadership. ACHA’s Guidelines for Pandemic Planning provides a list as an example that will help you collate this. Identify the functions that will be critical in the matter of an outbreak and the personnel on campus responsible for every single of these, making sure there are enough people which represents each function that should some become sick, the plan is not sacrificed. Identify decision makers, a chain of command, and what channels of communication are to be used. Finally, decide on the role of student health services. Many campuses will have the student health director as the real key decision maker in the event of a pandemic, but for some it can be more appropriate for the college student health director to have an advisory role instead. In any case, college or university health care professionals will be important to the achievements of every plan.

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