147933 College and University Planning for Pandemic Influenza: A Survey of Philadelphia Schools

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 8:45 AM

Lori Uscher-Pines, PhD, MSc , Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Wynnewood, PA
Esther Chernak, MD, MPH , Division of Disease Control, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Steve Alles, MD , Division of Disease Control, Philadelphia Department of Publiic Health, Philadelphia, PA
Jonathan Links, PhD , Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: Colleges and universities are critical players in the coordinated response to pandemic influenza; they are likely to be impacted as individual institutions and as sites of transmission within the community. However, to date planning efforts have focused on institutions such as hospitals, businesses, and government agencies. Aims and Methods: To assess the current state of college and university planning and to inform recommendations for these institutions, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health developed an interview guide based on CDC guidance and conducted in-depth structured interviews with representatives of Philadelphia schools. Results: Thirteen of 14 schools contacted participated in interviews. Six schools- slightly fewer than half of those surveyed- reported having a draft pandemic influenza plan. Schools noted barriers such as the lack of informational resources, a sense of urgency, concrete recommendations suited to different types of institutions (e.g. small colleges), funding, and political will to tackle a hypothetical threat among a myriad of existing public health threats. Schools requested further guidance on triggers for campus closure, materials to stockpile, and refunding tuition and adjusting credits for missed coursework. Conclusions: Local government can support schools in their pandemic planning efforts- now in its early stages- by facilitating coordination across community institutions. Also, it can provide recommendations as the appropriate level of planning detail, disseminate examples of best practices planning, and continue to emphasize the importance of all-hazards approaches to emergency planning.

Learning Objectives:
1) Assess the current state of college and university planning for pandemic influenza in the city of Philadelphia 2) Describe barriers that colleges and universities face in planning for pandemic influenza 3)List innovative all-hazards and pandemic-specific approaches to emergency planning developed by Philadelphia schools 4) Identify recommendations for local government support of school planning efforts

Keywords: Public Health Policy, Communicable Disease

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.