May 05, 2009 | | Comments 2
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Dark cloud, silver lining for H1N1

Well, the H1N1 swine flu panic seems to be subsiding somewhat, though I have no doubt that many of you are still managing the worried well to one degree or another (please let us know how you’re doing – shoot me a message on the blog, it’s your community and we want to know you’re keeping the faith).

That said, I have the good fortune this week to be spending some time in the Orlando area and I think there may be a bit of silver lining to all this.

As you might guess, I travel around the country quite a bit and one of the things I’ve noted over time is a paucity of hand-washing in airports, restrooms, and the like (admittedly my data set is pretty much confined to the male environment). However, while visiting one of the Orlando-area attractions (one of the leading star’s name kinda rhymes with shampoo), I noticed a phenomenal amount of hand-washing in the men’s restroom–I’d have to say within one or two percentage points of 100% (yes, I know, it’s a little weird, but I also found myself looking for sprinkler and egress obstructions, so label me an OCD).

And, while dining at a fairly upscale bistro, there was a whole group of folks (maybe eight adults and 10 kids) who were passing around a bottle of hand sanitizer before having dinner, which I do not ever recall seeing, a least in such a demonstrative fashion.

I’m hoping that H1N1 ends up being no more than a misplaced flu season, but maybe we’ll be dealing with some cleaner hands in the long run (I’m not getting into the mutation of more resistant strains of anything–that, as they say is for another day).

Hope to see many of you in Vegas for next week’s Hospital Safety Center Symposium, and yes, I’ll be looking to see who washes up before supper!

Entry Information

Filed Under: CDC/infection controlEmergency management


Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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  1. Keeping the faith – definitely! Our Pandemic Flu Plan was activated – our “Call Circle” worked as expected. It’s not enough to put faith in our stockpiled supplies and we did find all the daily updates on the web to be very helpful. One of the most important things we did (personal opinion) was (is) to keep our staff fully informed, to let them know what’s being done at their worksite and why, and give them knowledgeable and practical suggestions for a family/home plan.

  2. We activated parts of our pandemic plan we wrote 2 years ago. We required every one of our 8 campuses to devlop a detailed plan to manage an influx of influenza patients in an area away from teh ED to prevent our ED’s from being overwhemled, we have not had to activate these plans but we now have them is sufficiant detail to serve us well in the future. We dediciated a webpage in our intranet to H1N1 info for staff. We decoded early on to create as few documents as possible and to link our staff from taht page to reliable sites like CDC and dept. of health becuase any documents we created risk being outdated very quickly. We continue to hold daily confrnce call across our system.

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