Since 1997 when the first case of bird flu, or avian flu, was reported to have been spread to humans, health care professionals have been starting to look at what type of hospital pandemic flu plans need to be in place to best serve their communities.
Hospital administrators in countries around the world have increasingly been gathering critical knowledge and information needed to prepare an effective hospital pandemic flu preparedness plan that will address both patient care and employee health needs.
Hospitals are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees and for the patients under their care during a pandemic event. As part of the preparedness activities, public health agencies and hospitals are more frequently engaging in coordinating and conducting exercises and drills focused on a possible flu pandemic.
During a flu pandemic event, hospitals will be responsible for providing the brunt of essential services pandemic influenza would require. Hospital administration also must take into consideration that they will the have the dual responsibility of caring for large numbers of critically ill patients and of protecting the health of hospital personnel, during a period when resources and staffing are expected to be strained, which makes pandemic influenza hospital policies even more critical to be well thought out and prepared for.
As the world health community waits for what it looking like an inevitable flu pandemic, some are concerned that the chronic nationwide shortage of health care workers in US hospitals could increase. What can be expected during a flu pandemic related to community and patient needs, employee absences, and interrupted supply and delivery schedules must be addressed, as well as effective ways of managing these challenges during a flu pandemic.
Vaccine manufacturers and researchers are doing the foundation work that is necessary to develop a bird flu vaccine, but an actual vaccine against a pandemic cannot be manufactured until the virus has emerged.
Because of concerns about available vaccine and the possibility that health care services may be spread very thin in a pandemic influenza outbreak, personal pandemic preparations must also be considered by individuals and families. Sian Griffiths, director of Hong Kong's School of Public Health at the Chinese University, believes that the most effective method for stopping the spread of a bird flu pandemic is really very simple: good hygiene. Careful washing of hands and avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth can significantly reduce the possible spread of influenza of any type. Also, avoid close contact with those who are already sick or showing symptoms. Covering the mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing will also help limit the spread. Wash your hands often.
While there is no immediate threat of bird flu virus spreading widely into the human population, it is reassuring to be aware that hospital pandemic flu plans are being made. However, because of inherent limitations in case of a pandemic influenza presentation, it is emphasized that personal pandemic preparations should always be considered a first line of defense.
Robert G. Knechtel operates a number of websites specifically related to health issues, including BirdFluCrisis101.Com - Bird Flu Virus Facts along with Statistics about the Current Strain of the Bird Flu and Different Ways to Prevent Bird Flu from Happening to You .