With the traditional flu season fast approaching, the nation’s pedal-to-the-metal effort to produce a sufficient supply of vaccine and put measures in place to prepare for a new H1N1 virus outbreak is about to be tested. A heavier than expected load of cases during the summer months has health care providers and public health officials concerned.
A number of government agencies and health organizations are doing their part to prepare. Following is a roundup of online H1N1 resources for nurses and other health care providers, featuring resources offered by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the Americans Nurses Association (ANA), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as well as several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Education (ED). Many of the federal resources are gathered together under a Web site created specifically to address the H1N1 outbreak, called, “Flu.gov.”
Staying Safe on the Job
Nurses and other health care professionals need to stay healthy so they can continue treating their patients. Online resources on the subject include:
- A pandemic influenza toolkit for healthcare professionals, with advice on topics including treatment, prevention and health education, vaccines, preparedness tools, and more. (CDC)
- Guidance on how to clean and disinfect surfaces and materials in the health care workplace to keep the H1N1 virus from spreading. (Flu.gov)
- Specific recommendations for health care workers who are pregnant (CDC), and advice for specific subpopulations, including nurses who are pregnant (ANA).
- Guidance on the use of respirators and masks by health care workers (FDA).
- A Q/A on H1N1, addressing a number of questions of specific concern to health care workers (Flu.gov).
- A fact sheet on how to protect healthcare workers in high risk workplaces (OSHA). The document complements a longer one, prepared before the emergence of H1N1, offering guidance for healthcare workers and employers on how to protect against the spread of pandemic influenza (OSHA). The longer document discusses such topics as the use of protective equipment such as respirators, masks and goggles; hygiene in the workplace; collection and transport of specimens; and more.
Resources for School Nurses
A number of organizations offer materials aimed specifically at school nurses. Those resources include:
- Information for school nurses and educators on how to encourage healthy practices among children (CDC).
- A communication toolkit for schools to use in keeping parents up to date on the district’s efforts on H1N1 (CDC).
- A pandemic influenza checklist for school systems (CDC).
- Suggestions for how to talk to children about H1N1, for nurses to share with parents or use themselves. In English, Spanish, and in audio in English. (The document was prepared by NASN, the PTA, and the National Association of School Psychologists.)
- Periodic email updates for its NASN members. The updates are compiled on the organization’s website, here (NASN).
- A “Dear Educators” letter on preparedness issues from the Secretaries of Education and Health & Human Services.
- Information on how to encourage healthy practices in child care facilities (CDC).
Materials for Specific Health Care Institutions
The CDC is offering several checklists aimed at helping different types of health care institutions prepare for H1N1. These include:
- A pandemic influenza checklist for hospitals (CDC).
- A 10-step checklist for medical offices and outpatient facilities, with advice on how to prepare for increased demand for services in the midst of an H1N1 outbreak (CDC).
- A preparedness checklist for home health care agencies in English and Spanish (CDC).
Other useful resources include:
- A general fact sheet about H1N1 – what it is, how it spreads, its symptoms, how it’s treated, and more. (RWJF)
- A report from RWJF, Trust for America's Health, and the Center for Biosecurity, Pandemic Flu Lessons: Ten Early Lessons Learned from the 2009 H1N1 Outbreak, analyzing the initial response to the H1N1 outbreak, and concluding that while U.S. officials executed strong coordination and communication and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances, the nation's core public health capacity would be overwhelmed if an outbreak were more severe or widespread. (Summary, here.)
- A list of web links to the pandemic preparedness plans for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Palau (Flu.gov).