Nationwide, H1N1 tests hospitals’ emergency response, prompts preparation for possible return

Emergency Management Alert, May 12, 2009

Health officials in San Diego Count y have begun the preparation for a potential resurgence of the H1N1 influenza A virus (also known as swine flu), according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. After running out of drugs and protective masks, San Diego hospitals plan to boost their stockpile in the coming months. On June 18, hospitals and government health agencies in California will participate in a pandemic flu drill.

Initial assessments of the region's response to the outbreak were fairly positive, which some in the healthcare community attribute to the area's massive wildfires in 2003 and 2007, which they say helped hospitals solidify their emergency response plans.

In Des Moines, IA, health officials say they were ready for the swine flu outbreak after events in the past decade, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, SARS, and the bird flu made hospital s more aware of the potential for an outbreak, according to the Des Moines Register. Local hospitals there have plans for adding beds, increasing staff member hours, and using higher-level managers, many of whom are physicians or nurses, as frontline staff. In Greenville, SC, hospitals found the recent outbreak a good "rehearsal" for emergency response, according to Greenville News. The Greenville Hospital system reported that their communication and emergency room triage systems worked properly, though they realized they need to address triage in outpatient and medical clinics a bit more.

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