Dec. 12, 2007
UI releases updated Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan
War, global warming, and the 2008 presidential election are absorbing much public attention this winter, but planners in governments and public institutions are still very much concerned about the possibility of a pandemic flu outbreak.
As part of the planning for such an event, University of Iowa administrators recently released an updated version of the university's Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan (Pan Flu Plan). The plan is designed to guide the UI community through a moderate to severe pandemic influenza outbreak or other public health emergency. It can be found on the UI Office of the Provost's Web site at http://provost.uiowa.edu/work/pandemic.htm.
The University of Iowa Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Task Force, chaired by Christopher G. Atchison, director of the University Hygienic Laboratory and associate dean of the UI College of Public Health, began work on preparedness activities in January 2006. In collaboration with Johnson County Public Health and Iowa Department of Public Health officials, more than 50 UI faculty and staff members worked to develop the fiscal year 2007 Pan Flu Plan.
"The updated plan is far more comprehensive than the previous version, but we are definitely not finished," Atchison said. "When we submitted the plan, we provided a set of recommendations and next steps for further development. We recently received resources to continue to build public health infrastructure and enable the University of Iowa to be in a better position to mitigate the consequences of a global event like a pandemic."
The FY 2007 Pan Flu Plan is more than three times the size of the 2006 version. Activities during FY 2007 included a tabletop exercise in April, a Board of Regents-wide Pan Flu Planning workshop hosted by the UI, and several planning sessions. Materials reviewed originated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Department of Homeland Security and numerous other agencies at the federal and state level.
Pan flu planning improves the university's response to all hazards.
"We strongly support the activities of the UI Pan Flu Task Force," said Douglas True, senior vice president and treasurer for the university. "Emergency policies need to be in place well in advance of an emergency situation. The task force ensures a constant interplay and in-depth examination of issues that enhance decision making at all levels."
Mary Jane Beach, assistant vice president for finance and operations, said, "We have learned a great deal about the normal processes that take place every day across campus. Pan flu planning makes us think more carefully about how things are run and what is necessary to smoothly continue operations."
The Pan Flu Plan has five main sections: Basic Plan, Public Health, Health Care Services, Continuity of Operations (COOPS), and Communications. The Collegiate Advisory Workgroup (CAW), a subgroup of COOPS, was added in January 2007 to discuss academic topics including online learning and grading policies during a long-term emergency. Four pandemic phases are identified: Alert, Limited Services, Full Services and Recovery.
The Pan Flu Task Force and supporting activities are funded by the UI, the College of Public Health, the Institute for Public Health Practice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The first FY 2008 Task Force meeting is scheduled for Dec. 20, 2007. Five Task Force meetings are planned throughout FY 2008, along with an advanced tabletop exercise. Subcommittees meet between Task Force meetings.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500MEDIA CONTACTS: Christopher G. Atchison, Pan Flu Task Force, 319-335-4259 or 319-384-5487; Mary Jane Beach, Business Services, 319-335-0060; Charles Drum, University News Services, 319-384-0048