New Checklist Helps Home Health Care Providers Prepare for an Influenza Pandemic
Recognizing that home health care providers will play an important role in caring for the sick during an influenza pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a checklist to help these organizations assess their readiness to respond.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt released the guide at a Pandemic Planning Summit in South Carolina. The summits are being held in conjunction with state and local officials in every state over the next few months.
"Home health care providers will provide critical services during an influenza pandemic," Secretary Leavitt said. "Their ability to care for people at home and help reduce stresses on overburdened hospitals will be a key element in effectively dealing with a pandemic. Identifying strengths and weaknesses in their organizations now and building community contacts in advance will provide a strategic advantage if a pandemic influenza strikes."
While the checklist was designed with a pandemic influenza in mind, it could be helpful in other types of emergencies. Suggestions include:
- Creating a planning committee to specifically address pandemic influenza preparedness;
- Identifying points of contact at local and state health departments, emergency management service providers, and other health care providers in the community;
- Ensuring your plan complements local response plans;
- Planning for an increase in patients who require home health care services during a pandemic;
- Planning for an increased demand on supplies, such as masks, hand hygiene materials, food, medications and other necessities;
- Developing a system for evaluating symptomatic personnel before they report for duty;
- Identifying the minimum number and categories for nursing staff and other professional personnel necessary to sustain home care services for a given number of patients;
- Developing a contingency staffing plan.
Both the summits and the release of checklists build on the Administration's overall planning to increase pandemic preparedness.