This Thursday, Oct. 25, representatives from UCSF Medical Center and the campus at large will join with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and San Francisco hospitals to practice their response to an outbreak of pandemic flu.
This drill will focus on notifications and alerts, appropriate implementation of infection control strategies, identification of exposed staff, and evaluation of scarce resources in all San Francisco hospitals.
In addition, UCSF Medical Center will specifically evaluate its new incident command location as well as roll out the newest hospital incident command organizational structure. UCSF will test its alternate incident command location at Laurel Heights, and will test its capacity to evaluate and respond to a possible outbreak identified in Student Health Services.
The background of this scenario describes increased and efficient human-to-human transmission of avian flu in an Asian country. This level of transmission is ranked as phase 4 by the World Health Organization's phases of pandemic flu alert.
UCSF pandemic flu planners have agreed that at this level, UCSF leadership and program managers would be advised to evaluate their supplies and staffing and prepare for a possible outbreak.
"Worldwide air travel enables the quick spread of communicable disease from one part of the world to another," says Amy Nichols, director of hospital epidemiology and infection control.
Over the past year, campus and medical center programs have developed two tools that are intended as essential resources in a communicable disease outbreak response. One, the Communications Algorithm for Communicable Disease Emergencies, identifies how the emergency alert is communicated throughout the organization and integrates the technical expertise of the chief medical officer, infectious disease physicians, medical director of Occupational Health and medical director of Student Health Services into the institution's response.
The second tool, Common Human Resources Questions and Answers to Communicable Disease Emergencies and All-Hazards Disaster Response, consolidates information about sick leave and vacation benefits and other existing University benefits that may be used in any disaster into a frequently asked questions format. This benefits information is not new, but brings together consistent information that is important to managers and staff.
This pandemic flu emergency drill will provide a good opportunity to remind the UCSF campus-wide community to practice basic infection control principles at all times and especially during an influenza outbreak. These preventive measures include:
* Personal hygiene: Use tissues, hand soap, no-touch trash and towel dispensers and hand sanitizers
* Hand washing: One of the most important ways to prevent an infection is to wash your hands after touching another person, or an item or surface that may have been contaminated or soiled. Read more here
* Clean work environment: Avoid sharing work tools including computers and telephones.
* Flu shots: Although a specific vaccine is not available for avian flu, regular flu shots are currently available from UCSF Occupational Health Services. This is a safe and effective way to reduce the spread of flu. A full schedule of flu shots is posted here
For additional information about avian and pandemic flu, please check the following resources:
San Francisco Department of Public Health Communicable Disease Control and Prevention
California Department of Health Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US Department of Health and Human Services
World Health Organization