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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2011

Health agency seeking aid during emergencies

Groups would help with vaccinations, meds

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Hoping to head off a pandemic flu or a terrorism act involving public health, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is trying to find nursing homes, businesses, and other entities that would be willing to help give vaccinations and medications.

A few groups have agreed to join the health department's "point of dispensing" program, which allows participants to provide shots and/or medications to their own group as a closed site or the general public as an open site.

Last winter's push to vaccinate people against H1N1, commonly called bird flu, or a potential smallpox epidemic as the result of terrorism are two examples of when the program could be useful, Cheryl Murphy, the health department's emergency response coordinator, said.

"It could be any emergency or disaster," Ms. Murphy said.

Rosary Care Center in Sylvania and Stauzenberger College in Maumee have decided to become closed sites to dispense vaccines or medications.

The Sylvania nursing home, which has about 60 residents and 80 employees, will administer what is needed to them as well as employee families and the Sisters of St. Francis. It also could be used as a shelter for employees' families if necessary, Cheryl King, administrator, said.

"We've got to have our staff here to take care of our residents," she said. "If they're concerned about their family members, then they're not going to come to work."

Rosary Care and Stautzenberger College have staff members who could administer vaccines or medications. An estimated 5,000 faculty, students, and family members of both Stautzenberger groups would be part of any dispensing.

Being part of the program also exposes practical nursing and other students to mobilizing assistance in disaster and public health scenarios, Carolyn Nagy, practical nursing program administrator at Stautzenberger, said.

"We felt that this would be a good service to the faculty and the students as well," she said.

The health department recently started giving presentations to small groups of those who may be interested in the program, Ms. Murphy said. Nursing homes, residential facilities, hospitals, senior centers, and large business are among those the health department is hoping to attract, she said.

Many places have staff who could administer shots or give medication to employees, their relatives, patients, and others, Ms. Murphy said. Other groups could use medical volunteers or contract with a provider, and the health department's Medical Reserve Corps volunteers and nurses could help, she said.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have focused on containing outbreaks and protecting residents, Ms. Murphy said.

In the case of a smallpox outbreak caused by terrorists, for example, the CDC wants 100 percent of the population to receive vaccinations within 48 hours, she said.

For more information about the point of dispensing program, contact Ms. Murphy at murphyc@co.lucas.oh.us



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