JCHS Flu Information
Currently the College is in Pre-Level 1: Pre-Planning prior to efficient human-to-human transfer.
The College is closely monitoring world flu events and disseminating pertinent information on campus.
As public health studies and news reports indicate, a pandemic, or worldwide outbreak of a new influenza virus, could overwhelm health and medical capabilities globally. This type of outbreak could potentially result in hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of hospitalizations, and hundreds of billions of dollars in direct or indirect costs. This impact would likely be felt at Jefferson College of Health Sciences, as well as across the nation. This summary statement provides an overview of the Jefferson preparedness and response activities to mitigate campus-wide impact.
Carilion Clinic Flu Newsletters
There are many questions being raised about every aspect of the potential H1N1 influenza pandemic. For some of these, we have answers and for others it is a matter of watchful waiting to see what does transpire.
The College has formed a Flu Awareness Team and Carilion Clinic, the parent company of JCHS, does have a plan to handle a "surge" of patients, if this becomes necessary.
In order to keep us all up-to-date and knowledgeable of influenza related issues, we will be posting Flu Newsletters from Dr. Thomas M. Kerkering, M.D., FACP, FIDSA—Professor of Medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, as well as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases & Medical Director, Infection Control at Carilion Clinic.
We will all need to work together, and from the same information base, to effectively handle the possible scenarios that come our way. Click on the links below to download .pdf versions of the newsletters.
- Issue 1: Aug. 27, 2009
- Issue 2: Sept. 3, 2009
- Issue 3: Sept. 10, 2009
- Issue 4: Sept. 17, 2009
- Issue 5: Sept. 24, 2009
- Issue 6: Oct. 1, 2009
- Issue 7: Oct. 8, 2009
- Issue 8: Oct. 15, 2009
- Issue 9: Oct. 22, 2009
- Issue 10: Oct. 29, 2009
- Issue 11: Nov. 5, 2009
- Issue 12: Nov. 12, 2009
For more information on Carilion Clinic's efforts to prevent and treat influenza, visit www2.carilion.com/hr/internal/html/influenzainfo.htm.
The Pandemic Threat
Pandemics occur when a novel virus emerges that infects and can be efficiently transmitted between humans. Animals are the most likely reservoir for these emerging viruses; avian viruses played a role in the last three influenza pandemics. The current pandemic threat stems from an unprecedented outbreak of avian influenza in Asia and Europe, caused by the H5N1 strain of the Influenza "A" virus.
While the H5N1 Avian Flu virus is not currently easily transmissible between people, the spread of earlier global pandemic influenzas and the outbreak of SARS in Asia during the 20th Century illustrate how large an impact the spread of infectious, and sometimes fatal, viruses can have on populations. The extremely high rate of mortality with the current H5N1 virus only serves to heighten the need for proper planning for the next new global pandemic. Should a highly contagious and highly fatal form of the H5N1 virus enter the global community, it may be only a matter of time before the virus enters the United States and sweeps through the country.
Consistent with Guidance for Colleges and Universities found within the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza ("The National Plan"), the College plan addresses different outbreak scenarios including different levels of severity of the virus and rates of transmission. To prepare for the most severe health scenario to affect the campus community—that of a highly infectious and fatal virus entering the United States—the plan developed for the College is based upon the assumption that the campus may need to suspend or recess the academic program and close the campus for some number of weeks or months until the rate of transmission of the virus begins to reasonably subside.
Given the ease in which seasonal viruses spread each year among the population, it is assumed that the academic environment of campus classrooms cannot be maintained in the face of this new global pandemic without putting students, staff and others at risk of infection and possibly worse. The National Plan and other health sources recommend taking steps toward social distancing, minimizing public assemblies, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, increased hand washing, and other actions, in order to slow the spread of the virus. Yet, it can be anticipated that at the height of a pandemic outbreak few students will feel comfortable sitting in classes without being fearful for their own health. In addition, the College may be directed by local, state or federal authorities to close the campus regardless of the institution's interest in doing otherwise.
The suspension or recess of all classes and the closing of all residence halls will be potentially very disruptive for students wishing to attain degrees in the normal, two or four year program period. Nevertheless, the JCHS Avian Flu Pandemic Plan must contain such a scenario as a necessary means to protect members of the campus community.
The decision to close the College will be made by the Incident Response Team, chaired by President Carol Seavor. It will occur at a point after the first verified case is discovered in North America and be based upon a combination of the following decision criteria:
- World Health Organization declaration of Phase 6-Pandemic period: Increased and sustained transmission in the general U.S. population
- Confirmation of a high rate of infectivity, morbidity (rate of infection) and/or mortality (death rate)
- Rate/speed of disease spreading
- Local public health recommendations to curtail/cancel public activities in county or state
- Falling class attendance, students leaving campus
- Rising employee absenteeism
- Other regional schools/school systems closing
- Transportation systems closing/curtailing interstate travel
- Cases in the local Mid-Atlantic area occurring early versus late in the overall U.S. experience with the unfolding pandemic
During the period when classes are suspended or recessed, most campus academic, administrative, and support operations will be closed. Minimal utilities will be supplied to buildings, but all routine, normal daily housekeeping and maintenance activities will cease until such a time when the re-opening of campus buildings has been announced. Buildings will be secured in a way to prevent re-entry by all but approved essential staff. Security and facilities staff, and a small number of other essential employees will be needed to maintain safe, secure, and hazard-free buildings; however, while carrying out their duties, these essential staff members will take precautions to minimize their exposure to others who may be carrying the virus.
JCHS Avian Flu Pandemic Plan of Action
The College's response to the Avian Flu pandemic will be managed by the Incident Response Team (IRT). The IRT will incorporate part or all of the Avian Flu Task Force as needed throughout the pandemic period. It will meet weekly, daily, or more than daily as issues unfold. A location will be determined and expanded opportunities for conference call meetings have been established when large group meetings are no longer advisable or possible. Dr. Carol Seavor will Chair the IRT, with Dr. Doug Southard as Vice-Chair.
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, officials will monitor the information available via the internet and other sources. Through all the stages of response: Dr. Judy Lash will be the primary contact with the Virginia Department of Health, and other external health agencies or officials; Scott Hill will be the primary contact and coordinate with Carilion; and Thomas Harper and Susan Booth will maintain primary contact and coordinate with the local, state, and federal law enforcement and other emergency management agencies.
An outbreak could interrupt normal College functioning for a period of two to four weeks up to several months.
The College will implement social distancing measures and evacuate all of its students and many employees, but it may need to maintain some systems, and temporary emergency student housing.
The College has existing communications resources that can be mobilized for quick response in the event of an Avian Flu emergency. Media relations are additional assets available to support the communications plan.
Essential employees may need to function from either remote or campus locations to maintain services. Options for limiting exposure of essential employees to the virus would be beneficial. Staff may be requested to work multiple shifts and critical staff may need to be on campus to service critical College and Carilion systems.
Some level of loss of essential employees to illness or care for a loved one will require back up options for essential functions. Absenteeism attributable to illness, the need to care for ill family members, and fear of infection may reach 40% with lower but still significant absenteeism both before and after the peak (pandemicflu.gov). Also, absenteeism may be affected by the closing of public schools, quarantines, and other measures taken in the community.
Those affiliated with the College, even if they are not employed or enrolled, will require information on the College's plans and implementation during the crisis. Parents and families, the surrounding community, governing bodies and elected officials will all require periodic updates.
The College is not a healthcare facility; all ill students will be treated locally at appropriate facilities or health providers.
If the College closes, the residence halls will also close to every student within 8 hours. Any planning in this regard will only address temporary emergency housing, for exigent circumstances, and only until students can make arrangements to get home.
Under emergency conditions, the College may consider contingencies for student financial assistance for transportation costs.
At all times, the health and safety of the campus community will be of paramount importance. Protocols for health and safety measures have been developed and are included with these initial communications.
This plan will apply to the initial outbreak, as well as subsequent waves of the Avian Flu Pandemic.
To All Students
Jefferson College of Health Sciences wants you to know that we are committed to the health and safety of our students, and are continuously working to improve our response plans for potential emergencies. The JCHS "Pandemic Planning Committee" has developed a strategy based on recommendations from The World Health Organization (WHO), and the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other government agencies. At present, these health agencies are encouraging everyone to look at the implications of a possible pandemic outbreak of avian influenza ("bird flu").
Although the future impact of avian flu is not known at this point, we feel that advanced planning is essential. The Pandemic Planning Committee's strategy, as outlined in this letter, will help protect you and others in the community.
- If there is a pandemic flu outbreak, the College, after consultation with health agencies, will enter immediately into a recess, suspend classes, and close all residence halls. In the event of a recess: The College will notify students via e-mail, e-2 Campus and through posted information on the College's website (www.jchs.edu), flyers, and other means.
- Students should be prepared to depart campus immediately (or leave residence halls within 8 hours) with only those belongings that can be carried easily in a vehicle.
- Health agencies recommend that all students return directly home until the scope of the pandemic flu is understood. Students living on campus will be asked to follow a check-out procedure before their departure from campus.
- Students without vehicles should make arrangements now for transportation home.
- Students who cannot return home should consider making arrangements to stay with a relative or friend in another, off-campus, location.
- Students who have difficulty in planning for travel home should contact the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs at (540) 985-8395 for help or advice.
- In the event that the college should close due to a pandemic event, students should monitor e-mail, text messages from e2 Campus, voicemail, Blackboard, and the College website for further information.
- Should it become apparent that the College will be activating an emergency Plan of Action students should consider keeping cash on hand to cover travel and other expenses.
- All students living on campus are advised to obtain renter's insurance.
Because it is essential that we all work together to be prepared, we are also providing this same information to your families. The College will advise the campus community of any known potential emergencies and will continuously update students, parents, faculty, and staff on this important issue.
Further information on avian influenza can be found at the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/flu/avian
Department of Health and Human Services: www.pandemicflu.gov
World Health Organization: www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza
Thank you for your assistance.