Damage control

By on September 16, 2009

Although not necessarily life-threatening to healthy college students, the H1N1 virus has had its impact on college campuses. Sixteen students have been placed in isolation with flu-like symptoms since the beginning of the school year. President John Lahey and the school’s Crisis Management Team have been preparing for such an outbreak since this past spring.

Joe Rubertone, associate vice president for facilities administration and chair of the Crisis Management Team, sent a memo to all students and staff discussing their plan of action for treating affected students and preventing a campus-wide outbreak.

“The team has accomplished a great deal, including establishing a plan for the University to continue to operate in the event of a major H1N1 outbreak, creating an isolation area on the second floor of the Recreation Center on the Mount Carmel campus for students suspected of having the flu and developing an H1N1 educational campaign for the campus community,” Rubertone said in the memo.

The team is comprised of representatives from almost a dozen different campus organizations. Its preparations come in the wake of many colleges and universities across the country getting hit by the H1N1 virus, including Duke, Texas Tech, Alabama, Kansas, Emory and Washington State.

According to a recent United Press International article, 55 percent of the 165 U.S. colleges tracking H1N1 say they have infected students.

“We have plans within the academic area, through the use of technology to deliver our basic academic programs, through Blackboard and online uses for a period of time,” Lahey told The Chronicle in a Sept. 10 interview. “If we had to send students home or evacuate the campus, we believe we have the ability to continue to deliver the students their academic programs electronically at least for a week or two weeks and then hopefully get past the crisis. . We think we have plans both for a minimal outbreak and a more serious outbreak.”

Professors are now required to take attendance every class, and must report to the University if a student is absent for two classes in a row. Students are also being told not to come to class if they are sick, and if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms to get themselves isolated as soon as possible and to contact Health Services.

For additional information, students can call Quinnipiac’s H1N1 Flu Hotline at extension x4161 to receive information on what they can do to prevent and treat the flu virus. This service is provided by Phil Brewer, M.D., university medical director for student health services.

“I think we’re doing all the things we can reasonably do in that area,” Lahey said. “Knock on wood, it has not gotten to a level where we had to use either of the major contingency plans.”

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