Nursing Homes Not Prepared To Pandemic Flu
Most nursing homes are not properly prepared and equipped to fight pandemic flu, finds the new study of nursing homes and flu preparedness.
The study appears in Journal of the American Medical Association and points that in case of influenza pandemic the US nursing homes will fail to fight the infection. Researchers sent questionnaires to all 656 state health departments to conduct the study, but only 69% of all the questionnaires were properly responded.
Study examined 400 nursing homes and found that only 23% of nursing homes have a particularly developed pandemic influenza plan. Another 25% have the plan integrated into disaster response plan, which is still not good enough. The rest of nursing homes (52%) did not have any plans at all.
Half of nursing homes were found to have stored some necessary equipment, such as gloves and hygiene products. Only 6% of nursing homes conducted any exercises to prepare stuff for pandemic influenza.
The nursing home flu preparedness situation was the best in Michigan and Nebraska nursing homes: About 77% had a person on staff responsible for pandemic influenza cases, 84% of homes have access to laboratories to detect and threat during a pandemic, 71% provide with mental health services for those who suffer a disaster.
Nursing homes are considered to be very important health units because in emergency situations it may be impossible for a patients to get to a hospital. In cases of pandemic influenza hospitals can be overcrowded and nursing homes need to have the ability to provide the same services the hospitals do. In such cases, if nursing homes fail to do the job properly, it will be a huge failure of overall health system and will cause health complications to disease sufferers.
"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," says senior author Lona Mody, M.D., M.Sc, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System and research scientist, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. "Nursing homes run a high occupancy rate, making it logistically difficult to accept a lot of patients if there is a time crunch."
Researchers urge the nursing homes to be prepared to emergency, particularly, they need to have a pandemic influenza plan, work with nearby hospitals and health units to make sure that every single patient will be treated on time. Also researchers say nursing homes in case of overcrowded units need to have staff trained and educated against pandemic fight.