ICPs Prepare for Bioterrorism
By Tina Brooks
What are you doing at your facility to prepare for the threat of bioterrorism?
"We are a freestanding psychiatric facility. Our preparation has been working with the local hospital, county agencies and our corporate people. We've been trying to do our best to educate the staff."
Steve Chinn, DPM, CHE, CPHRM
Fremont Hospital, Calif.
"We have been working through all of this as many other hospitals are right now. We have done a lot of staff education that started after 9/11. We have reviewed our internal policies and made changes about how we would handle this. Some things that may have worked before are out the door now! Most recently, our facility has opted to not vaccinate employees with the smallpox vaccine. But we are dealing with issues like what we will do when we get a patient who is having problems after the vaccination or those who are here for something and also have a fresh vaccination site. There are a lot of scenarios to work through in an effort to be ready. We also added a decontamination area to our newly expanded emergency room (ER). We added a security guard and check station at our front and back entrance areas and we have a security desk by our ER that monitors things at all times."
Lisa Greene, RN, BSN, CIC
Infection Control Practitioner
Hamot Medical Center, Erie, Penn.
"We have a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) plan in place. It is broken down into chemical, biological and radiological disasters. It defines who, where, how, and how long jobs in the plan are done. We also have periodic drills to exercise the plan. Education of staff has been done on an annual and on an as-needed basis."
Paula Lister, RN
Infection Control/Employee Health
St. John Hospital, Leavenworth, Kan.
"We have produced education materials for the ER copied from information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and posted a high alert notice of signs and symptoms to be suspicious about with instructions for precautions."
Nancy Drew, RN, CNA, CIC
East Orange General Hospital, N.J.
"In collaboration with our public health department, we have an ongoing process of providing information to people including hospital employees, primarily through statements that are generated by the CDC. My primary priority is getting the information out to hospital employees in a timely manner and keeping the chief executive officer informed of any major issues that may need to be addressed sooner rather than later. We are in the process of obtaining volunteers who are willing to receive the smallpox vaccination. As an infection control nurse, I have facilitated getting the pre-screening information to potential vaccinees. We have conducted a self-assessment that was requested by the state regarding our preparedness for a bioterrorist attack, and although deficits were identified statewide, we have not yet had to change anything. I do not feel that we have brushed off how significant an issue this is: however, being a rural 48-bed hospital in Montana tends to lend itself toward a more relaxed attitude. There is not widespread panic in our area and organizations are moving forward as best as possible, given the limited resources available."
Alida E. Merritt
Department Head, QI/IC/UR
Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, Hamilton, Mont.
"We have written an internal and external disaster plan to include all biologicals. I also serve on the Region 7 Illinois Bioterrism Committee that feeds back information to the state. Our plans were developed under a multi-disciplinary team approach. We have a team of 70 willing to be vaccinated in the first phase of the smallpox plan."
Karen Martin, RN, BS
Manager of Epidemiology
Advocate Christ Medical, Oak Lawn, Ill.
"We have written a plan of action should we have any terrorist activity here and are working with the local health departments in community efforts. Several of our employees and physicians have received or are receiving the smallpox vaccine."
Barbara J. Jones, RN, ICP
Infection Control Department
Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Tenn.
IDSA Says Bioshield Must Be Expanded to Protect U.S. From Pathogens
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) testified before the Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in early April to express its strong support for the Bush administration's Project Bioshield. However, the IDSA urged Congress to expand the scope of Project Bioshield to include proactive measures to ensure the availability of novel antimicrobial agents to fight non-bioterrorism-related infections.
"Project Bioshield provides important incentives to accelerate pharmaceutical research to ensure the availability of drugs and other tools to respond to bioterrorism outbreaks," said John E. Edwards, MD, chair of IDSA's Public Policy Committee. "Those incentives could and should be applied to ensure the availability of antimicrobials and other therapeutics to protect Americans from naturally occurring pathogens."
Despite the bioterrorism threat, a more immediate crisis is unfolding in U.S. hospitals in the form of naturally occurring infections that are becoming increasingly resistant to existing antimicrobial drug products. In the last year alone, microorganisms have become resistant to drugs normally considered the last line of defense against certain infections. Last summer, Michigan reported cases of vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). At a time when new anti-infective agents are needed more than ever, pharmaceutical companies are considering or already have withdrawn from anti-infective drug development because of low profitability. Of 89 new agents approved in 2002, not one antibacterial drug was approved.
IDSA urges Congress to considering expanding the scope of Project Bioshield to provide incentive for the industry to develop new anti-infective drugs to protect against existing public health threats.
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