There’s time to develop a flu pandemic plan
By LARRY SMITH, Published May 10, 2009
On April 25, the World Health Organization declared the swine flu a public health emergency of international concern. The U.S. followed the next day by declaring a national public health emergency.
Colleges and universities are in varying stages of preparation for a pandemic, mulling over whether to close dormitories during a pandemic, quarantine infected students and even close campuses. These are a few of the questions that must be answered and incorporated in a campus pandemic plan.
Other issues, like preventing campus violence and creating emergency-notification systems, received higher priority than pandemic planning in the past few years. But colleges can still take action. In fact, if pandemic history repeats itself, the most severe part of a pandemic is still five or six months away.
The path the University of California at Davis took to addressing the previous threat of a bird flu pandemic provides a blueprint for other higher education institutions to follow. The university started with a template, including the chain of command, how communication would be handled and identifying critical functions that would have to be maintained and the level of staffing they would require.
Each unit of the university had to identify critical functions or programs that could be delayed a week, a month or longer.
“Pandemic absenteeism” is an issue for all organizations. But for a college or university, it’s not only students who fail to make it to class or faculty member who are out sick or afraid to come to work. It’s also that college might not have enough people to keep the physical plant systems and processes going.
A few of the key areas that pandemic plans should include are:
* Human resources/payroll
* Physical facilities/utilities
* Health services/clinic
* Campus police, fire protection and EMS
* Food services
* Information technology