‘Pandemic Flu Home Care’

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A recent survey in an infectious disease journal found that 76 percent of American adults worry about becoming ill if they have to stay home and take care of the sick during a severe flu pandemic.

“Pandemic Flu Home Care: A Detailed Guide for Caring for the Ill at Home” is a practical resource manual by health care professionals with backgrounds in community health nursing, education and training, clinical social work and international health, in caring for the ill at home during a public health emergency or flu pandemic.

It’s free for immediate download at www.pandemichomecare.com.

The authors undertook the project after citizens at local and regional pandemic planning meetings – including one with tribal representatives from the New Mexico area – asked for information about how to take care of themselves and their families during a severe pandemic.

They reviewed existing resources and found that most materials at the time covered primarily mild symptom management and recommended that people contact physicians and hospitals when symptoms were more severe.

But their historical review and current analyses of health care systems determined that people may have to manage severe symptoms and death at home, if a virulent influenza outbreak is widespread.


“Existing resources lacked instructions on infection prevention, setting up a sick room, how to monitor a sick child or adult by taking a temperature with a thermometer, preventing dehydration, keeping the person comfortable and knowing when to contact a health care provider if one is available,” said co-author Sandra L. Schwanberg.

The authors took the position that the more detailed information people had the better their coping would be in a changing situation. They also wanted to cover key public health information likely to be discussed in the news; infectious disease transmission, severity, reasons for vaccination, isolation of the sick and possible quarantine of those exposed to the disease.

“We took the same care in writing the book for the public that we would take in preparing information for a professional audience,” Schwanberg said. “We felt that if people had thorough information, they could cope effectively with a difficult situation and make good decisions for themselves and their families.”

The book took Schwanberg and co-authors Maurine Renville and Lesley J. Mortimer nine months to write, review and edit. Lay people and health care professionals reviewed their work throughout the process. There was a charge for the book until April 2009, when the U.S. declared a public health emergency.

Their goal now is to locate fiscal sponsors to increase the book’s distribution, provide more illustrations and include coloring books for kids, DVDs and games. They’ve translated the book into Spanish, and illustrations are complete for one chapter.

Its distribution includes acute care facilities, public health centers, churches, businesses, tribal nations and other groups. It is also a resource for doctors, nurses, paramedics and community health workers.

“We wanted people to have information that hopefully they will never have the need to use,” Schwanberg said.