If influenza pandemic hits the
Of the more than 400 nursing homes in the study, just 23 percent had a specific pandemic influenza plan. Another quarter of the nursing homes had a pandemic response incorporated into an overall disaster response plan. And more than half – 52 percent – did not have any pandemic plan.
“If nursing homes are called upon to serve as alternative care centers for patients who can’t be treated in overcrowded hospitals, the impact on the nursing homes could be vast. Nursing homes serve a vulnerable population prone to dire consequences from an emergency,” says lead author Philip W. Smith, MD, professor and chief, Section of Infectious Diseases, University of Nebraska Medical Center. “While most facilities felt that nursing homes were being counted on to take hospital overflow patients in a pandemic, in reality few homes would be able to do so.”
“Nursing homes may not be equipped to handle an influx of influenza as well as non-influenza patients. They may also be unwilling to accept overflow patients, if it means displacing their current residents,” adds senior author Lona Mody, MD, MSc, assistant professor of internal medicine at the
“Specific areas for improvement,” Mody says, “include communication with nearby health departments and hospitals at planning stage and exercising formulated plans. Planning for staff shortages is also critical.”
Half of the nursing homes in the study had stockpiled some commonly used supplies such as gloves and hand hygiene products. Less than half had provided pandemic education to staff members. Just 6 percent had conducted pandemic influenza outbreak exercises.
In more optimistic findings, more than three-quarters – 77 percent – of all
A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease on a global scale. Typically, a pandemic is lengthy and would create a strain on traditional healthcare institutions, infectious disease experts say. To relieve some of that burden, additional sites known as
Methodology: The researchers sent a questionnaire to all 656 state health department or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid-registered nursing homes in
Reference: Journal of the American Medical Association, July 23, 2008, Vol. 300 No. 4.