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H1N1 Focus of California Hospital Association Disaster Planning Conference

3-Day Conference Brings Together Public Health Officials, Clinicians, Disaster Experts

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the H1N1 pandemic unfolds and the fall flu season arrives, the potential impact on California's local community hospitals is significant. In order to address the myriad of complex issues that may arise, more than 800 nurses, doctors, emergency room (ER) managers, disaster planners, emergency preparedness coordinators, public health officials and governmental leaders have gathered in Sacramento for a three-day conference on the readiness of California's hospitals to respond to emergency or disaster situations.

"California's community hospitals are on the front lines of care, especially in times of a disaster," said C. Duane Dauner, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association (CHA), the sponsor of the conference. "Yet, hospitals don't operate in isolation. Emergency preparedness is an ongoing effort that requires collaboration among health care providers and state and local public health officials. This information-packed conference brings together all of the key stakeholders to ensure that our communities are prepared to respond to the challenges ahead."

The conference, called "From Readiness to Recovery," is cosponsored by the California Department of Public Health, the California Emergency Management Agency and the Emergency Medical Services Authority.

A highlight of the conference will be a panel discussion on preparing for an outbreak of the H1N1 pandemic influenza featuring three top state public health officials. The session, titled

"Preparing for an H1N1 Outbreak - The State's Perspective" is slated for Tuesday, September 15 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. Speakers will include Gilberto Chavez, M.D., chief of the Center for Infectious Disease at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH); Kathleen Harriman, M.D., chief of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Epidemiology Section at CDPH; and Deborah Gold, senior safety engineer in the Research and Standards Unit at Cal/OSHA. The three officials will discuss health care worker safety, the state's vaccine program and the impact of a manufacturing shortage of N95 protective masks.

H1N1 also will be the topic of a luncheon presentation on Monday, September 14 featuring Susan Fanelli, assistant deputy director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness at CDPH. The presentation, titled "Update on State Initiatives -- What We Are Learning About H1N1," will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency hotel (across from the convention center). Fanelli will share the latest information on California's efforts to prepare for the H1N1 pandemic, including an update on the state's reserve of protective medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplies.

A discussion on how pediatric H1N1 patients differ from adults suffering from the influenza outbreak will be among the topics discussed during a two-part presentation on trauma and pediatric surge planning to be held Monday, September 14 from 3:30 - 5 p.m. The speakers will include Hernando Garzon, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento and EMS Medical Director for Sacramento County; and Kathleen Stevenson, disaster resource center manager for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

And an innovative new approach to triaging and evaluating patients using automobiles as self-contained isolation units will be the focus of an informative session on Tuesday, September 15 from 2:30 - 4 p.m. Called "Drive-Thru Triage," Eric Weiss, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine and medical director of the Office of Continuity and Disaster Planning at Stanford Hospital/Clinics will share important lessons from this novel method for evaluating high volumes of patients during a pandemic.

In addition to H1N1, the conference also will feature many other disaster planning sessions including responding to a chemical or radiological incident, addressing the psychological consequences of terrorism or other large-scale emergencies, and the role of long-term care and community clinics during a public health emergency. Conference sessions will take place at the Sacramento Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency hotel.

SOURCE California Hospital Association
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