The next pandemic: anticipating an overwhelmed health care system

Yale J Biol Med. 2005 Oct;78(5):355-62.


Introduction: In September 2005, an overview of current health care system planning efforts was presented to the audience at the Yale University Ethics Symposium on Avian and Pandemic Influenza. The speaker, also the author of this article, provided the audience with a summary of what was being undertaken with the use of federal preparedness funds to improve the overall infrastructure of the health care system. All of Connecticut's 31 acute care hospitals, the Veteran's Administration Hospital in West Haven, Hospital for Special Care, Gaylord Rehabilitation Hospital, Natchaug Psychiatric Hospital, and the state's 13 Community Health Centers are currently recipients of federal preparedness funds. Federal funding for this planning comes from Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Service's National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program.

Objectives: This article outlines the planning activities around pandemic influenza that the state's health care system partners started in 2004-2005 and also those they are currently participating in or will be participating in the next 12 to 15 months. The article highlights the key objectives and strategies that health care facilities will be using in this planning. There are four major objectives that each health care facility's Emergency Operations Plan must address. They are: increasing bed availability, developing strategies to deal with the potential staffing shortages, developing strategies for dealing with potential critical equipment and pharmaceutical shortages, and, lastly, the implementation of education, training and communication strategies for their health care workers and the public they serve. These plans, and all the activities needed to operationalize the plans, such as education, training, drills, and exercises, will include their key partners, i.e., local health departments, local emergency management, police, fire, and Emergency Medical Services. This article will describe this work plan in detail.

Methods: Descriptive information was obtained through the author's observations and personal experiences, in addition to governmental guidance, reports, and plans.

Conclusion: The "all-hazards" planning currently being undertaken by the key health care system partners in Connecticut as a result of federal funding for preparedness post 9/11 has fostered great working relationships between these entities and their local, regional, and statewide planning counterparts. Many of the specific grant dollars being provided to these facilities can assist in the planning that must be done for pandemic flu.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Connecticut
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*