Archive for the ‘Epidemics’ category

Focus on the Positive

April 29th, 2009

Okay, who wants to be the first one to have written about a pandemic?  Unfortunately, I know way too much about this stuff.  Guess it’s that old hospital CEO mindset.  Prepare for the worst, and expect it.  Well, let’s all pray that this thing settles down before more people die.  My friend, Dr. Matt Masiello wrote an E-mail today that could probably help a lot of people.  A public health message with a level of calm urgency.

Dr. Matt MasielloBased on the cumulative experience of the scientific and health promotion/disease prevention staff at WRI, we began a more active approach in  preparedness then what had been recommended by WHO/CDC and the local EMS. We feel that with WHO now raising the alert level to 5 our actions were appropriate. May I suggest the following.

1.    Prepare and distribute a letter to parents asking them to keep their children home if they have a cough, fever, headache. If someone in the family has the same signs and symptoms the children should also stay home until  the illness by the family member is confirmed not to be Swine flu.

2.    Place a small table with sanitizer bottles at the entrance ways of the school buildings.

3.    Encourage staff to carry on their person the small hand sanitizers.

4.     Instruct your teachers to review with the students advice on handwashing and use of the sanitizers. Teachers should remind students throughout the day of the importance of handwashing as well as keeping their hands away from their face and the importance of coughing into their sleeves. Wash/sanitize hands afterwards. I would encourage formal, scheduled trips to the BR to wash hands and when ever necessary.

5.    Place the attached sign in key locations and encourage staff and familes to take them and post at home as a reminder. Wash hands prior to and returning from work/school/play.

6.    Get plenty of rest, eat well and exercise.

7.    Open windows for better movement of air, when and if possible.

8.    Minimize social gatherings. The canceling of social events may come as  a formal recommendation via the CDC in the very near future.

Matt

So, that’s the official word from the United States’ representative to the World Health Organization.

Now, onto life.  Last night we completed a list of services that we are helping to provide to hospitals, schools, hotels, newspapers,  businesses and anyone else that might be interested.  Rather than list each business individually, let me list their services, products, and work, and, if you’re interested, give me a call.

  • Technology Solutions for Government
  • Sophisticated market research
  • Physician billing/Pre-certification and approval of payments for doc offices.
  • Telemedicine and medical device marketing analysis and launch
  • Food Services for hospitals and long term care centers
  • Education Programs and Leadership Solutions
  • Continuing Medical Education for physicans and nurses
  • State and Federal Lobbyists and Business Development Experts
  • Personal Healthcare and Corporate Wellness
  • Crisis Response Communications
  • Construction solutions (REIT)
  • HR and House Wide Quality System for Job Descriptions
  • Translation services (Contract pending)
  • Specialized Cancer Laboratory Services
  • Removal and disposal of hazardous waste, a green company
  • Economic Development and ECAP green initiative
  • The Doctors’ Doctor – Physician office mergers, acquisitions and general business operations consulting, and Hospital Physician strategic planning

Obviously, each line represents a company that we represent, and even more obviously, SunStone Consulting is your answer for all of the financial challenges that hospitals face.

A Different Kind of Saturday Night Fever for Some

April 25th, 2009

In August 2006, I was inspired to write a disconcerting blog post regarding the potential outbreak of the avian flu.  It was a disturbing post not only because it contained potentially negative statistical mortality outcomes on an international basis, but also because, as a relative insider, it was clear to me that we were not ready at all for this type of pandemic.

Churchgoers in Mexico City | Photo Credit: AP

Churchgoers in Mexico City Sunday | Photo Credit: AP

With new grandbaby Zoey safely here on earth less than a week ago as the youngest member of the family,  today’s opening story of a potential influenza pandemic made my blood run cold.  The rate and speed with which this type of pandemic could overtake our world is almost immeasurable, and, having flown from San Francisco, to San Diego, to Richmond to Pittsburgh in the last week, it was clear that,  if I had been a carrier, literally hundreds of people could have been infected simply by my presence.

Those who are realists or pragmatists will simply say, it is Mother Nature’s way of “thinning the herd,” but herd thinning in our case is something that is uncomfortable, especially in such a random way.  During the pandemic of 1917/1918, mass graves were dug not ten miles from my home, and undertakers were not even permitted to prepare the bodies for burial.

My previous blog focused on the avian virus, but this morphed virus that appeared in Mexico, not China, not the Far East as originally predicted, is a combination of human, swine, and avian viruses.  No one has ever seen or found cures for this type of radical new flu yet.


View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

The World Health Organization came out today with only a level three warning, but when they described this level of warning, they indicated that it was simply because they did not yet have enough information to take it to level six.  There are confirmed cases in San Antonio, San Diego, and one report even indicated that New York had two cases, and over 68 are known dead in Mexico.  Fever, sore throat, coughing, nausea, body aches, headaches, chills and fever are some of the symptoms presenting with this flu that can result in pneumonia and respiratory failure.

Mexico City closed it schools on Friday, and more such initiatives are expected as this powerful force of nature begins to take on a life of its own.

How can you avoid getting this flu?  Wash your hands, stay away from infected people, cover your nose and mouth.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Let’s all hope that this never gets any worse than it did in the 1976/77 cycle when only a very few people died at that time…mortality rate was low with swine, but this is swine, avian and  human combination.

Tonight, say a little prayer.

Also by Nick Jacobs:

Are We Ready for the Avian Flu?
Hospital Impact
August 8th, 2006