First reports of swine flu at nursing homes surface, professionals council issues guidelines

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A council of long-term care professionals has issued guidelines for dealing with suspected or actual outbreaks of H1N1, or swine flu. The recommendations came out late last week, just hours before the first suspected cases of the flu at nursing facilities began to surface.

Reports circulated Friday about three NY nursing home residents suspected of having contracted H1N1. In addition, a nursing aide was believed to have contracted the sickness after visiting Mexico and returning to work before symptoms surfaced.

The Long-Term Care Professional Leadership Council urged pro-active planning and interventions in its guidelines. “By taking steps to prepare, facility leadership can exhibit confidence and calm. This preparation is important regardless of the outcome of the present S-OIV [swine-origin influenza A virus] outbreak since an influenza pandemic can happen at any time,” the LTCPLC noted.

Among the recommendations: All facility staff should be trained to recognize flu symptoms before they hit, and any person who develops flu-type symptoms should be considered a possible cause, until proven otherwise. Coordination with pharmacies and local health officials also is emphasized. Members of the LTCPLC include the American College of Health Care Administrators; the American Medical Directors Association; the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists; and the National Association Directors of Nursing Administration/Long Term Care (NADONA).