Preparations for a major outbreak of seasonal flu or a new variety like the H1N1 flu have been underway at Union Hospital for the past several years. Planning has stepped up significantly in recent months anticipating a major outbreak of H1N1 flu or seasonal flu in the coming months. UH is receiving the latest information about flu vaccines, medications, prevention, and treatment. Frequent communications are received from the Tuscarawas County Health Department, Ohio Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control.
Hospital staff members have considered different flu outbreak scenarios and made plans to care for an influx of patients with flu symptoms, care for staff exposed to flu virus, and meet the hospital?s staffing needs. Medications, supplies, and food are stockpiled if the usual sources are interrupted.
Prevention is a critical step in the hospital?s planning. One aspect of prevention is to ask for cooperation from visitors. At this time the hospital is at the ?common sense? stage of visiting restrictions. Signs are posted at the hospital?s public entrances asking that nobody visit with cold or flu-like symptoms. Surgical masks, tissues, and hand sanitizer are provided at those entrances and their use is encouraged. If, and when, a flu outbreak occurs in this community UH will implement additional visiting restrictions.
Prevention also includes immunizing patients and hospital workers from both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. Because only a portion of the seasonal flu vaccine ordered by UH has been received it will be offered first to Nurses and UH employees with direct patient contact. When additional vaccine is received, perhaps mid to late November, UH may extend the offer to all UH employees and volunteers.
The H1N1 vaccine is expected to begin arriving in October. It will be offered to all hospital staff, but if quantities are limited it may be offered on a priority basis based on direct patient contact.
For more information about Seasonal Flu, visit the CDC site: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/
For more information about H1N1 Flu, visit the CDC site: http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/