BEING PREPARED FOR A PANDEMIC OUTBREAK
Healthcare workers receiving training in West Africa (cdc.gov)
As of October 2014, the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa has caused the deaths of over 4,500 people.1 Originating in Guinea, the epidemic has spread to five West African nations as well as to healthcare workers in Europe and the United States.
On October 24th, it was announced that Ebola has made its way to New York City. While working on Ebloa patients in Guinea as part of a Doctors Without Borders program, Dr. Craig Spencer contracted the virus. He returned to NY on October 17th and was symptom free until October 23rd. He is now in Bellevue Hospital Center in NY.
The ease of contracting the virus, the high fatality rate, the speed in which the virus has spread, and a lack of a proven virus treatment existing2 has led the epidemic to be of great public concern and fear.
What is Ebola Virus Disease?
October 2014 Ebola outbreak map situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola, is a disease to humans and mammals caused by an ebola virus. The virus is acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected person. Entry points can include the nose, mouth, eyes, or open wounds, cuts and abrasions.3 Symptoms begin within three weeks of contracting the virus and can include a fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. More severe symptoms such as vomiting and rash may follow and bleeding may occur internally or externally.
Death from the virus can occur within one week from multiple organ failure or hypovolemic shock.4 The death rate in the West African outbreak is currently estimated to be as high as 70%.5 Outbreak control of the virus requires rapid detection, contact tracing, quick access to laboratory services, and proper medical care management (protective clothing, washing hands) of those who are infected.
Modern Pandemics of Concern
- Viral hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola)
- Antibiotic-resistant microorganisms (also known as “superbugs”)
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
- Influenza (Flu)
- H5N1 (Avian Flu)
What You Can Do to Help Prevent Getting Sick
Simply taking the time to wash your hands daily will help prevent germs from spreading (cdc.gov)
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water or alcohol based hand cleansers for at least 20 seconds multiple times per day.
- Avoid contact with people you think might be ill.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend in your arm.
- Keep a distance of six feet from others if possible while in crowds or public spaces.
- Clean common areas/equipment, computers, phones, office equipment more often.
- In severe pandemic environments, avoid travel on taxis, buses, trains, and airplanes.
- Stay current on health news.
- If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention and do not return to school or work unless you are fever free for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medicine.
- Receive annual vaccines such as the influenza vaccine.
What LIM College Is Doing
If any epidemic were to reach New York City in the future, LIM College is committed to implementing proper protocols and playing an integral role in protecting the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. The following areas highlight measures that LIM College has in place for preparing for and responding to pandemic events:
A Pandemic Coordinator and Response Team – Special Assistant to the President, Linda Harris Paolillo heads a response team with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness, response, and recovery planning. This group will be responsible for planning and coordinating LIM College’s decisions in the case of a local pandemic. This group readily plans for different outbreak scenarios, including variations in severity of illness, mode of transmission, and rates of infection in the community. Periodic updates from the team are sent to the LIM College community, are posted on the College’s website, and are shown on Axis TV.
Following State and Federal Recommendations – In the event of a pandemic outbreak, LIM College is committed to following directives by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). Scheduled classes, college events, and student activities may be postponed or cancelled. Recommendations for closure of the residence hall and/or the College will also be considered. Under “normal” pandemic circumstances, and upon the recommendation of the CDC and/or NYC DOHMH, if LIM College closes, it will remain closed for 5-7 days.
In the case of a needed evacuation of the College, residents with extenuating circumstances who cannot vacate will be allowed residence. Student, faculty, and staff travel will be restricted upon the recommendation of the CDC or other global health organizations. Study abroad students returning will be required to stay out of school until they are fever free for 24 hours without medicine if they have traveled to a country that has reported an outbreak.
Care and Isolation/Quarantine of Sick Students – In the event of an outbreak, ill students living within a 400 mile radius of LIM College will be required to return home to receive care by their primary care givers. For recovering students not under hospitalization and who live outside of the radius, Educational Housing Services (EHS) allows students to be safely isolated within 1760. A roommate, if one exists, will be moved to another room within LIM College’s inventory or at another EHS facility or room. In the event of a serious, wide-spreading pandemic, students who may also need to be isolated will be isolated in the Townhouse (FashionOpolis). Food, living, and visiting medical services for students will also be arranged by the College.
Counseling & Wellness Services - Counseling & Wellness Services will provide counseling services to students, faculty, and staff in need. Services will focus on critical incident debriefing to help the campus community recover from the effects of the pandemic. If the emotional needs of the campus community are greater than the resources available through the Office of Counseling & Wellness Services, the Director will retain services from other response organizations and/or provide community referrals. Due to the personal nature of counseling services (face-to-face discussion in a small enclosed space), in-person services would be limited to members of the college community who are not symptomatic in order to minimize the potential spread of the illness. Individuals who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to those who are symptomatic would be offered services via telephone. Staff and full-time faculty will be able to use the resources of the College’s Employee Assistance Plan to speak with counseling and wellness professionals.
Stockpiling Non-Perishable Food and Supplies - If New York City mandates a closure of all higher education facilities, the College will follow CDC and/or NYC DOHMH guidelines for possible equipment and supply needs as they pertain to the epidemic. The College has also made arrangements with a New York City food service contractor for food deliverables to the residence hall.
Providing Awareness to the Community - Standard LIM College email and social media will be the primary sources of communication, unless otherwise indicated by an emergent situation. The College has a Crisis Communications Plan in place which includes specific messaging for health-related issues. The College maintains an emergency notification system that includes email, text, and phone (inbound and outbound) messages. Registration is mandatory for all faculty, staff and students. The College’s website also has an Emergency Banner Alert feature. These will be deployed at the appropriate levels of response.
- Useful Sources of Information
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – www.nyc.gov/health – Phone: 1-866–692–3641
- NYSDOH – New York State Department of Health – www.health.state.ny.us Phone: 1–800–543-3638
- CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov - Phone: 1-800–232–4635
- WHO – World Health Organization – www.who.int/about/contacthq/en/ - Phone: 1 (202) 974-3000
- LIM College Counseling & Wellness Services - (Open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) - Maxwell Hall – 216 45th Street, 14th Floor – Phone: (212) 752-1530 Ext. 315
1WHO: Ebola Response Roadmap Update-17 October 2014
2 Choi JH, Croyle MA (December 2013). "Emerging targets and novel approaches to Ebola virus prophylaxis and treatment. BioDrugs 27 (6): 565–83. doi10.1007/s40259-013-0046-1. PMID 23813435.
3"Q&A on Transmission, Ebola"CDC. September 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
4 World Health Organization (September 2014). Retrieved 19 October 2014. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/
5 WHO Ebola Response Team (23 September 2014). "Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa — The First 9 Months of the Epidemic and Forward Projections". New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved 23 September 2014.