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Key Points in Pandemic Planning, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 912

Essay

Potter defines a pandemic an infectious disease that is spreading uncontrollably across a very large area, typically at least a continent. The recent pandemic of the H1N1 influenza virus, which spread from Mexico to Southeast Asia, has alerted healthcare facilities across the world (Bronze). The fact that an infectious disease can manifest anywhere and spread easily because of the increased frequency of international travels at the present makes it necessary for healthcare professionals to develop effective plans for preventing the spread of pandemics and mitigating its effects. This essay gives a summary of the key points of pandemic planning, with the purpose of informing both the healthcare professional and the layman of the critical considerations in preparing for the possibility of worldwide diseases outbreaks.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,there are various key points in pandemic planning. First and foremost is to identify who should be involved in the planning. Pandemic planning should be a holistic affair for a healthcare institution, involving not just its doctors and nurses, but representatives from every department who can effectively echo the plan to their peers and subordinates. The security department needs to be involved since widespread panic can be expected to break out in the event of a full scale outbreak.

The second point is that the “points of contact for information on pandemic influenza planning resources” should have been identified within local, state and tribal health departments as well as the state hospital association. This means that pandemic planning is not something that an institution is supposed to conduct in a vacuum. It is a collaborative process that should be in line with the plans of other institutions and departments. With a coordinated front, a pandemic can be expected to do less damage.

In relation to this, the third point is that there must be a definite assignment of liaisons to external groups for the purpose of information dissemination during the plan development process. It is not enough for institutions to be inform other healthcare facilities for its preparation, it must involve these institutions at least on the level of constant information exchange. Different institutions must be aware of what each other are doing in preparation for a pandemic so that the collective effort would be more successful. In line with this, it must be remembered that a pandemic must never be treated as an opportunity for competitive advantage (Crum). The gravity of the danger that a pandemic can bring upon human society is so vast and potentially devastating that preventing and mitigating the effects of a pandemic takes precedence over all other business considerations. Only in the absence of private interests can healthcare facilities effectively share information on pandemic planning.

The third point is that the plan must consider not just the mitigation of pandemic effects, but more importantly the detection of possible patient zeros within the healthcare facility. A healthcare institution must be vigilant in ensuring that all of the patients that it admits are properly screened for infectious disease. Pandemic planning must consider a system in which both patients and staff can be readily assessed for possible infection without violating their rights. There must also be proper internal information dissemination set in place that can inform people within the facility of the institution’s plans for pandemic prediction and mitigation.

Next, the plan must consider providing staff and even patients or patients’ relatives with proper training in the event that a pandemic strikes. As shown from previously documented occurrences of pandemics, events can occur out of nowhere, and this can leave everyone in a healthcare institution that is not directly related to pandemic planning in a panic. This means that even with a sound plan, a healthcare institution must consider the human element of fear, and mitigate this by ensuring that even the rank and file and the patients’ relatives who are with them in their rooms would have some idea of what the protocol would be in case of the outbreak of a pandemic.

The next point is that the plan must include how to continue operations even in the event of a pandemic. A healthcare institution is critical to the survival of a society. This is even more so in the event of a pandemic. Thus, it is imperative for a healthcare facility not to freeze up and consider only its own welfare during a crisis. There must be proper measures put in place for continuing operations, while assessing all incoming patients for symptoms of the pandemic diseases without compromising the health of healthcare personnel.

Last but not the least; the plan must include provisions for the care of patients who may be especially affected by a pandemic, such as young children, the elderly, patients with chronic diseases, pregnant women, children and adults with compromised immune systems, and patients with physical and/or mental disabilities.

It is significant for each of these points to be considered in planning for the event of a pandemic. In the event that a pandemic does occur, a healthcare facility can find itself serving as the last bastion of health and hope in society. Thus, it is imperative for its plan to be completely thorough.

Works Cited

Crum, G. Pandemic Planning: Keeping the Bank Off the Critical List. 2008. 14 Nov 2010. Web.

Bronze, M. H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu). 2009. 14 Nov 2010. Web.

Potter, C. A History of Influenza. Journal of Applied Microbiology 91 (4): 572–579, 2001.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Hospital Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist. 2007. 14 Nov 2010. Web.

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