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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 beenworking with the local hospital, county agencies and our corporate people. We'vebeen 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 areright now. We have done a lot of staff education that started after 9/11. Wehave reviewed our internal policies and made changes about how we would handlethis. Some things that may have worked before are out the door now! Mostrecently, our facility has opted to not vaccinate employees with the smallpoxvaccine. But we are dealing with issues like what we will do when we get apatient who is having problems after the vaccination or those who are here forsomething and also have a fresh vaccination site. There are a lot of scenariosto work through in an effort to be ready. We also added a decontamination areato our newly expanded emergency room (ER). We added a security guard and checkstation at our front and back entrance areas and we have a security desk by ourER 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 brokendown into chemical, biological and radiological disasters. It defines who,where, how, and how long jobs in the plan are done. We also have periodic drillsto exercise the plan. Education of staff has been done on an annual and on anas-needed basis."
Paula Lister, RN
Infection Control/Employee Health
St. John Hospital, Leavenworth, Kan.
"We have produced education materials for the ER copied from informationprovided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and posted ahigh alert notice of signs and symptoms to be suspicious about with instructionsfor precautions."
Nancy Drew, RN, CNA, CIC
East Orange General Hospital, N.J.
"In collaboration with our public health department, we have an ongoingprocess of providing information to people including hospital employees,primarily through statements that are generated by the CDC. My primary priorityis getting the information out to hospital employees in a timely manner andkeeping the chief executive officer informed of any major issues that may needto be addressed sooner rather than later. We are in the process of obtainingvolunteers who are willing to receive the smallpox vaccination. As an infectioncontrol nurse, I have facilitated getting the pre-screening information topotential vaccinees. We have conducted a self-assessment that was requested bythe state regarding our preparedness for a bioterrorist attack, and althoughdeficits were identified statewide, we have not yet had to change anything. I donot 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 morerelaxed attitude. There is not widespread panic in our area and organizationsare moving forward as best as possible, given the limited resourcesavailable."
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 allbiologicals. I also serve on the Region 7 Illinois Bioterrism Committee thatfeeds back information to the state. Our plans were developed under amulti-disciplinary team approach. We have a team of 70 willing to be vaccinatedin 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 activityhere and are working with the local health departments in community efforts.Several of our employees and physicians have received or are receiving thesmallpox vaccine."
Barbara J. Jones, RN, ICP
Infection Control Department
Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Tenn.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) testifiedbefore the Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives inearly April to express its strong support for the Bush administration's ProjectBioshield. However, the IDSA urged Congress to expand the scope of ProjectBioshield to include proactive measures to ensure the availability of novelantimicrobial agents to fight non-bioterrorism-related infections.
"Project Bioshield provides important incentives to acceleratepharmaceutical research to ensure the availability of drugs and other tools torespond to bioterrorism outbreaks," said John E. Edwards, MD, chair ofIDSA's Public Policy Committee. "Those incentives could and should beapplied to ensure the availability of antimicrobials and other therapeutics toprotect 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 becomingincreasingly resistant to existing antimicrobial drug products. In the last yearalone, microorganisms have become resistant to drugs normally considered thelast line of defense against certain infections. Last summer, Michigan reportedcases of vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). At a time when newanti-infective agents are needed more than ever, pharmaceutical companies areconsidering or already have withdrawn from anti-infective drug developmentbecause of low profitability. Of 89 new agents approved in 2002, not oneantibacterial drug was approved.
IDSA urges Congress to considering expanding the scope of Project Bioshieldto provide incentive for the industry to develop new anti-infective drugs toprotect against existing public health threats.
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