Toolkits set for rural and remote hospitals in case of pandemic

The Ontario Hospital Association has launch­ed a pandemic planning toolkit designed specifically for the province’s small, rural, and northern hospitals.
The toolkit was developed by the association in response to the unique issues and chal­lenges faced by those hospitals in developing emergency re-sponse plans specific to an influenza pandemic.
"Geographic remoteness, long distances, low density popu­lations, fewer providers, and inclement weather are all factors affecting our small, rural, and northern hospitals’ ability to provide timely access to care," said Tom Closson, association president and chief executive officer. "Through this toolkit, our small, rural, and northern hospital leaders have access to practical re­sources that will support them in furthering the culture of safety and preparedness they are working so hard to attain in their organizations and com­mu­nities."
Authors of the Ontario health pandemic influenza plan, developed by the Ministry of Health, estimated that a moderate influenza pandemic could result in between 15 to 35% of Ontario’s population falling ill.
The plan also noted that of those who become ill, approximately 53% will re­quire outpatient or primary care, with 1.5 to 2% requiring hos­pitalization.
The objectives of the toolkit are to provide practical strate­gies, checklists, and templates to assist hospitals with the de­velopment and implementation of their pandemic plans.
Information in the kit includes:
–  a chapter on community pandemic planning and re-sponse, outlining what pan­demic planning could look like at the community level;
–  seven steps to developing a hospital pandemic plan, which is outlined in the Hospital Pandemic Plan and Re­sponse chapter;
–  detail about what various levels of government are doing to meet information needs, and about the tools that are offered o assist hospitals and other organizations in pandemic plan­ning; and
–  guidelines and tools for developing service reduction, human resources, and equip­ment and supplies plans, as well as a communications strat­e­gy
"The [association] recog­niz­es that planning efforts must not be in isolation and that we must take a community-based approach to pandemic planning to ensure coordination and co­operation across sectors," said Closson. "Our toolkit is de­signed with this in mind, and we hope that it will also be useful in addressing the pan­demic planning issues of our health care and business part­ners across the system."
Every hospital in Ontario has been provided with a copy of the toolkit to help guide their pandemic influenza planning activities. Additional copies of the toolkit can be ordered on­line by visiting the OHA’s website at and going to Communications – Publications for Sale – Publication No.319, or by calling 416-205-1350.
Health officials have been preparing for a flu pandemic for several years now. Influ­enza pandemics ravage the world about every 50 to 70 years, and the next one is com­ing due to meet that average. By being ready, health officials are hoping to be able to lessen its impact.