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Novel influenza A (H1N1)

Current Situation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Novel H1N1 Situation Update

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) FluView  (weekly report on all Influenza types)

World Health Organization Influenza A (H1N1) Resource Page

About the Disease

Novel influenza A (H1N1), historically referred to as Swine Flu, is a respiratory disease common in pigs and usually rare in humans.  In this case, the virus mutated and is now capable of efficient human-to-human transfer.  According to the CDC, the virus is spread among humans in the same way as seasonal flu, primarily through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus.  Because it is a novel virus, there is little if any human immunity.

New England Journal of Medicine H1N1 Resource Page

Steps Hospice and Palliative Care Providers Can Take Now

  • Re-educate your staff on good infection control measures.
  • Confirm that you have up-to-date contact information for key public health and emergency management agencies.Do not assume you have the latest informationcall or e-mail your contacts to confirm your information.This should include, at a minimum: state and local health departments, emergency management agencies, hospitals, police, fire, and EMS.
  • Ensure your organization’s public messages are consistent with state and local public health department messages and guidance about the disease.
  • Educate staff on the messages they should be provide patients and families.This should include, at a minimum, information on:
    • Hand washing, covering their cough, using tissue, and other infection control practices,
    • Symptoms of influenza, and
    • What to do and who to contact if symptoms develop.
    • The  CDC Web site is the best source for this information.

Review and update your organization’s pandemic/emergency plans.  If your organization does not have a pandemic plan, one should be developed.

Notes on a Pandemic Plan

  • Make sure your organization’s plans are consistent with local, state, and national pandemic plans. A list of state pandemic plans is available on the CDC Web site.Review state and local pandemic plans and know what is or may be expected of your organization.
  • The three most important elements that your plan must address are:
    • Staffing:
      • How is your organization going to handle staffing shortfalls due to illness or family emergencies?Remember to consider staff members with children.
      • Review, update, or create pandemic staffing policies.Policies should address minimum staff requirements, sick leave, work from home, and vacation.
      • Make sure staff members understand their responsibilities under the plan.
    • Supplies:
      • Will your organization have enough supplies to handle an increased census?
      • Review inventory of personal protective equipment.
      • Prepare strategies for handling supply shortages.
      • Remember supplies may be delayed, limited, or unavailable during a pandemic
    • Communication:
      • Make sure your staff knows who to contact throughout an event.
      • Make sure your organization knows who to contact throughout the event.
      • Make sure your patients and your patients and families know who to contact throughout the event.

Recommended Resources

Home Health Care Pandemic Check List  (Department of Health and Human Services)

Clinical and Public Health Guidance (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Pandemic Influenza Toolkit  (Centers for Disease Control) This document provides resources for clinicians to use with patients when discussion pandemic influenza.

Home Health Care during an Influenza Pandemic: Issues and Resources  (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers  (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

Facemask and Respirator Guidance (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Interim guidance on using facemasks and respirators to decrease exposure to novel influenza A (H1N1) virus, includes recommendations for family caregivers and health care professionals.

Post-mortem Care Guidance (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance for transport, family contact, and autopsy

General Workplace and Business Guidance (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Online Training (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) this page lists a series of online training courses related to infectious disease epidemiology, prevention, and control.