COHPA Home
  • Blog
  • 2006
  • UCF Preparing Plan to Cope with Potential Pandemic Flu Outbreak
ShareThis
Text Size:
Print This Page

UCF Preparing Plan to Cope with Potential Pandemic Flu Outbreak

Click image to enlarge

By Chad Binette

The University of Central Florida has joined companies and governments nationwide in preparing a plan to cope with a potential pandemic flu outbreak.

UCF employees are working together to determine how to best care for ill students and anticipate when campuses would have to be closed if a pandemic flu outbreak were to reachCentral Florida. They also are determining how they would continue essential services and provide as many classes as possible online during a pandemic.

The avian flu has yet to reach the United States, and health officials stress that there is no reason to panic even if it does. The disease is mainly carried by birds, and humans have become infected mainly through close contact with birds. To date, the virus has not been capable of spreading easily from person to person, and that type of transmission would be necessary for a pandemic to occur.

However, emergency and health workers want to be prepared in case an outbreak affects the region. Departments might need to operate with only 60 percent to 70 percent of their usual staffs, and they need to have essential supplies and protective gear ready in advance.

"We do not want anyone on campus to panic, but we want people to worry enough to ask themselves questions on what they would do in case we have to deal with a pandemic," said Jim Uhlir, director of Environmental Health and Safety. "Our emergency management structure and the prior preparations that we have made for hurricanes should provide a good foundation for a flu plan that will help ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff."

Avian flu was the topic of a half-day forum Tuesday hosted by UCF's Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies. The event featured David Winn, who serves on the U.S. Department of State's Avian Influenza Action Group, a task force established earlier this year to coordinate the U.S. preparedness and response to the threat of a global flu pandemic. To read more about the forum, go to this story.

A pandemic flu epidemic could affect many departments on campus. Housing and Residence Life would continue housing students who do not return to their homes and might set up separate "sick zones" and "well zones" to try to prevent the disease from spreading.

Health Services would care for ill students and also is leading an effort to plan how to vaccinate large number of students quickly, in case an effective vaccine becomes available during a pandemic.

Working with the School of Nursing, Police Department and others on campus, Health Services may hold a vaccination drill in August. Instead of giving out shots, participants plan to hand out candy while simulating the process that would be used for vaccinations.

"We want to make sure that when such an event happens, UCF will be best prepared," said Dr. Michael Deichen, associate director of clinical services for Health Services.

If the campus was to be closed for an extended time, Course Development and Web Services could be called on to help the university continue classes online to avoid major disruptions to students' educational plans.

Following recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, UCF's emergency personnel and Continuity of Operations Team have divided up several tasks among member departments to create a pandemic flu plan. The team plans to present a draft plan to President John Hitt later this month.

Employees who would work directly with ill students will be fitted for respirators and trained on how to use them. Many other employees would be given basic surgical masks that do not require any advance training to use.

Individual departments are being asked to determine what supplies and services they would need during an outbreak and to make sure they have adequate plans to get them. They also should identify which employees might be the most likely to become ill or to have to care for other family members so that other employees could be trained to do their jobs. Some departments may need to consider hiring temporary employees or contractors or moving to alternate locations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to wash their hands vigorously and often to try to avoid catching diseases. They also should stay at home from work when they are sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Health Services has set up a Web site to help inform the UCF community about the avian flu: www.shs.ucf.edu/services_avianflu.htm. More information about the avian flu also is available at www.pandemicflu.gov or www.cdc.gov/flu/avian.

Share and Enjoy:

Posted

Archive

The health care informatics master's program at UCF really helped me connect with the industry, meet people at conferences and sit for the most-desired certification exams."
— Michael Neimann M.S. in health care informatics ('14)
My internship with the District 9 Medical Examiner’s Office was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I gained an excellent understanding of the medical examiner’s office and the criminal justice field in general."
— Adam Stubley B.S. in criminal justice, criminal profiling certificate ('11)
UCF provides its physical therapy students with an excellent education and prepares them to work in the most challenging of settings."
— Jamie Dyson Rehabilitation Supervisor, Orlando Regional Medical Center
UCF's program provided me the opportunity to expedite my student experience while attaining practical experience working within local health systems."
— Daniel Barr V.P. at National Children's Hospital; M.S. in health sciences, health services administration track ('04)
My master's education helped me see the big picture of the nonprofit industry. UCF showed me how to see the different fundraising tools within the Central Florida area."
— Krysti Griffith Executive Director of Growth from Grief; Master of Nonprofit Management ('12)
The course opened my eyes to grant writing ... I learned a great deal and you [Barbara Howell] are truly an excellent instructor."
— Deborah Reith Master of Public Administration student who secured a $10,000 federal grant through a course project; B.S. in criminal justice ('86)
The skills I learned during my time at UCF are what made my transition to law school so seamless."
— Jacqueline Iaquinta Touro Law Center student; B.S. in legal studies ('10)
As an inaugural graduate of the M.R.A. program at UCF, I can attest to the outstanding curriculum developed for research administrators. "
— April Heyward Post Award Services Coordinator, University of South Carolina; Master of Research Administration ('13)
It was at UCF that I first learned many of the skills that I’ve since honed, including mapping with GIS software - an ability I found invaluable to my search for internships, graduate-level coursework, and employment."
— Richard "Ben" Hagen Research and Communications Associate, New Economy Project, New York City; B.S. in public administration ('10)
I am excited to be able to give back to the program that invested so much in me. It is truly and honor and a privilege."
— Carlos Gual Instructor of Athletic Training; B.S. in athletic training ('09)
The faculty advisor [at my medical school] was amazed that I had the opportunity to truly participate in the full spectrum of research as an undergraduate. "
— Chase Cavayero, medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicince, B.S. in health sciences - pre-clinical ('13) 
Give a Gift - The College of Healh & Public Affairs