Preparing Hospitals for an Influenza Pandemic
Influenza has been with us for millennia, but in the modern healthcare system, we still haven't seen a true pandemic. Experts in the field feel like this streak of good luck is bound to come to an end. When it does, those in the field will need to be well prepared with proactive safety and security solutions. The response will be a key marker to how well such an outbreak can be contained, and it will test every single aspect of hospital management and infrastructure.
Dr. Sanjay Gutpa recently published an article that tried to clearly highlight the major difference between a pandemic flu and the typical seasonal flu we go through year after year. One stark highlight of the CNN posting described a pandemic as: "a pathogen that can spread easily from person to defenseless person, our immune systems never primed to launch any sort of defense." The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) has put up warning signs of their own. By one assessment, a pandemic outbreak of influenza could infect 90 million Americans (nearly a third of the entire population), and kill as many as 1.9 million.
So, what can hospitals do to prepare now? With our advanced technology and the time to organize, there is much that can be done.
Always check with the CDC: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is a wealth of information, and the National Pandemic Strategy guidebook is essential reading for any member of hospital management.
Shortages: In a pandemic, shortages will occur. What can you do now?
- Be aware of what specific supplies you may run low on.
- Understand that your staff may also be in short supply. Experts are reporting that 40% of staff could be unavailable during a pandemic.
Staff Education: Your staff needs to be just as knowledgeable as you are. They must know the plan and how to execute it. Everything from drills to classes should be taking place now.
Political Climate: Currently, hospital budgets are under duress, with cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health being most prominent. This should be factored in when considering how and when to prepare.
Thorough education and proactive safety and security solutions should be at the top of the priority list for any healthcare organization. To learn more about tips, products, and services, read through our blogs and updates. To take further precautionary steps, contact us today.
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