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Pandemic Magnified Areas for Improvement and Collaboration

Feb. 26, 2010

Several useful sessions on H1N1 took place during last week’s Public Health Preparedness Summit. Here is recap of just a few of the H1N1-related sessions at last week’s summit. Links are provided to full presentations and longer descriptions on the SummitUp blog. The blog was set up to chronicle the conference’s highlights and share the insights that had come out of discussions and seminars.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the summit’s H1N1 Town Hall session that focused on assessing responses to H1N1. There were several other valuable sessions related to H1N1 at the summit, where stories were shared and ideas were passed around. 

Summit attendees working with health departments and health agencies were beginning to digest the lessons they had taken from their experiences with H1N1. The long trial had made them seasoned veterans, after working in the trenches at call centers, healthcare centers, and vaccine clinics. Michael Stoto, professor of health systems administration and population at Georgetown University, alluded to the pandemic as “the fog of war” because of the uncertainty around the virus when it first emerged.

At a Wednesday session to discuss preparedness for at-risk communities, attendees were eagerly sharing stories of resourcefulness in trying times: partnering with organizations, reaching out to ethnic minorities, and rapidly patching together solutions such as the distribution of thermometers to low income families who otherwise would not be able to afford them.

The speaker, Michael Stever, emergency manager with the Utah Department of Public Health, shared several useful take-away tools for local health departments to use to reach their at-risk communities, including Utah’s own Special Needs Registry.

A Thursday session brought together health departments who had been involved with quality improvement (QI) and accreditation efforts. The speakers described the advantages of adopting QI tools and methods for doing so.

Shirley Orr, director of local health with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment; John Moran, senior quality advisor with the Public Health Foundation; and Jennifer Hunter, director of clinical services with the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department spoke about a shift in the public health environment towards increased accreditation. Hunter described how QI initiatives had helped in implementing and assessing H1N1 vaccination clinics in northern Kentucky.

Orr had some strong words for the audience: “You all as public health officials have an opportunity to advance QI and be leaders in the field,” she said. “You are the practitioners who perhaps have the best connection to QI tools because it is implicit in a lot of the work that you do.”

Related Links

Collaboration in Preparedness Planning for the At-Risk Population

Using Your Experience with H1N1 and Quality Improvement Tools to Review, Refresh, and Revitalize Your Pandemic Flu Plan


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