CLEARFIELD – Is Clearfield Hospital prepared to handle a flu pandemic?
Monica Smith, emergency department manager, believes so, but just to make sure, the hospital is going to test its ability to handle such a crisis during an infectious disease outbreak exercise scheduled for Thursday and Nov. 3.
The pandemic drill will be based on a scenario similar to this: 14 patients come to the emergency department with flu-like symptoms within a two-hour period. At almost the same time, a local school district calls and informs the hospital that 30 students are absent with similar symptoms.
Smith said the volume of patients presenting with similar complaints during such a short time period would signal an outbreak.
During this exercise, hospital personnel will practice their response plan, which includes heightened security throughout the facility, creation of a command center to field inquiries and direct operations and vaccinations for hospital staff.
The drill will not impact delivery of medical care — patients and visitors will be able to enter the hospital through the Turnpike Avenue entrance, the emergency department/outpatient entrance and Medical Arts Building.
“We emphasize this is a practice exercise and not an actual outbreak. Our goal is to move through our response plan in an effort to ensure what we have planned will work well in real life. We believe our plan is thorough, but we will take action if the exercise demonstrates a need for revisions,” Deloris Gibson, drill coordinator and nutrition services director, said.
Clearfield and Philipsburg area school districts will also participate and implement their pandemic action plans. School administrators will provide information to parents.
The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory tract. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches.
Smith said the flu is spread from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes; you can protect yourself against the flu by practicing good health habits like washing your hands often, and getting vaccinated each fall.
The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated.
Mrs. Smith said people at high risk for complications from the flu should get vaccinated each year. These include: children aged 6–59 months; pregnant women; people 50 years of age and older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; people who live in nursing homes; people who live with or care for those at high risk including healthcare workers and child care workers.
GantDaily Editor’s Note: Check the Public Notices Channel for information on when and where flu shots are being offered.