Swine Flu Disaster!
Do you have your disaster plan ready?? The avian flu spurred organizations to evaluate their disaster plans and to revise or add provisions in response to a national biohazard or infectious disease disaster.
Our county health department has been holding meetings for care providers to assist them in developing individual disaster plans as well as plans for working together in the event of a health care crisis or national disaster. Well, the H1N1 flu situation kicked it into high gear these past two weeks and some of us were not adequately prepared.
I like to think I am on top of most things but, alas, there are times when I drop the ball... What would you need to consider when you develop your disaster plan? One disadvantage we have is that the HVAC for the building is all interconnected. Each suite has their own control panel but the duct work and pipes all connect at some point in the ceiling and basement. The dentist offices would close but our patients would need to have access to us. What to do?
- What kind of patients would you be able to help during a disaster? Our office would not be able to care for highly contaminated or infectious individuals but we could be a vaccination station or call center.
- Who would man the office? Do you or your staff have children at home? What would happen if the schools or day cares were closed? Would your staff be willing to work in a potentially hazardous situation? How would you make that decision?
- What type of personal protective gear do you need? Can you afford to buy the necessary gear?
- What would happen to your equipment, supplies and records? Storage of HIPPA-sensitive material? Storage of temperature sensitive medications or vaccines?
- What about simple "disasters": power out for more that 4 hours, phones out, computers down, locked out, patient or staff safety... we could go on and on.
Oh the advantage of having a smaller clinic! The health department sent e-mails with sample protocols for anyone who did not have a plan in place. We modified them slightly and had them ready within a couple of hours. The county nurse stopped in and issued N95 masks, instructed the staff, and reviewed our protocols. There were no committees to approve or disapprove of the written plan, no need for a timed roll out and very little lost time for education and implementation.
There are days I long to hire a person who can do the OSHA, BLS, HIPPA, RED FLAG, SAFETY, COLA and all the plans, rules and education requirements we need to review every year..... someday. For now, we are ready for H1N1, maybe H1N2.