A recent survey in a medical journal found that 76 percent of Americans worry about becoming ill if they have to stay home and take care of their 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 to caring for the ill at home in a public health emergency or pandemic. It’s free to download at http://www.pandemichomecare.com/.
The authors took on 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.
In their review of existing resources, they found that most materials 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, Ph.D., R.N.
The authors decided that the more detailed information people had the better their coping would be in a changing situation. They also wanted to cover the key public health information people were likely to see 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, L.I.S.W., M.Ed, and Lesley J. Mortimer, M.S.N., M.P.H., F.N.P., nine months to write, review and edit. Lay people and health care professionals reviewed the 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 entire book into Spanish, and illustrations are complete for one chapter.
It’s 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.
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