Are You Prepared for a Pandemic Flu?

Have you played the board game Pandemic? The premise is simple, find a cure for the four different diseases spreading throughout the world, threatening to wipe out a region before it’s too late. While it seems simple, it certainly isn’t easy. The same can be said for the response to and preparation for pandemic flu.
CPR is comfortable leaving the treatment of pandemic flu, along with the research for a cure to the medical experts, but when it comes to talking about the response, we’re the experts. Is your healthcare facility prepared for a pandemic flu outbreak? Are you ready to treat multiple patients and do so under less-than-desirable conditions? Let’s break it down.

More patients, more problems

While an epidemic is easily defined as an infectious disease spreading rapidly, a pandemic differs as it is a global disease outbreak. Pandemic flu has been a problem several times in the last 100 years.
  • 1914 – Spanish Flu killed 40-50 million people
  • 1957 – 2 million people died in Asia
  • 1968 – An outbreak in Hong Kong killed 1 million
So with the increased number of patients streaming into your healthcare facility, all of whom were sick with the flu or are now exposed to the flu, are you prepared to handle them?

Staff become patients

Even the most sophisticated quarantine process can be breached and, most often it is enacted too late. When patients start coming in with an illness, it takes a while for it to be diagnosed and for protective measures to begin. At some point, through treating patients or through everyday life exposure, your staff is going to be impacted by this. A mutual aid agreement with facilities outside of your immediate area could be helpful in this instance. And maintaining an alert roster with accurate contact information will ensure that those who are not infected can be reached quickly to come into work.

Responsibly allocating resources

With a pandemic outbreak, there is going to be a problem when it comes to supplies. From basic food, water, bandages, and beds to more extreme shortages, like those of medication. There is never going to be enough dosages of a vaccine or a treatment when a pandemic outbreak occurs. Having a plan in place before reaching this point is going to solve a lot of problems. There are a few options.
  • Triage approach – the most serious cases would be treated first
  • Effective approach – giving the treatment to those who it will benefit the most
  • Lottery Approach – a ‘first come-first served’ method of disbursing medication and vaccines
  • Priority Approach – the approach that favors health care providers, first responders, military members, or those who provide essential services, and then letting natural selection take over

Start now

Late in 2016, Bill Gates expressed concern over a pandemic flu outbreak. He spoke about how ‘the Ebola and Zika crises showed the systems for responding to emergencies are still not strong enough’ on an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program. It’s a very real concern, as it could take months from the beginning of a flu pandemic to have an effective vaccine prepared.
If you’re the only facility planning for a pandemic flu outbreak, you may be the only one who survives it. Similar to living within your budget early in life, and reaping the benefits later on. Emergency preparedness is never considered a bad thing. Take the steps now so that you are prepared.
Categories: Healthcare
Topics: Flu, Pandemic

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