In a survey of approximately 1,500 home medical or durable medical equipment providers conducted by the American Association for Homecare, more than half (53 percent) have formal plans to respond to a pandemic flu and another 23 percent have stockpiled N95 masks or other supplies related to a flu pandemic.
Eighteen percent said they are working on a formal plan and expect to have one in place within the week. Two-thirds say they are coordinating or communicating with other organizations in their communities to prepare for a pandemic.
“Home-based care is a centerpiece of the national pandemic flu response and in a pandemic situation, home medical equipment personnel will be on the front lines,” says Tyler J. Wilson, president of the Association.
The survey, which was conducted on April 30 and May 1, included responses from 147 homecare providers, collectively serving more than 2.5 million patients through more than 1,000 branch locations across 50 states.
Some homecare providers have had pandemic flu plans and training dating back several years. Pat Northheimer, clinical director at Cole Care in Coudersport, Pa., commented, “We had a pandemic flu drill three years ago that involved hospitals and local EMS. Projections were made with a scenario that worsened each day. It was very helpful in showing us just how bad things could get if the projections were accurate. The drill went into great detail.”
Apria Healthcare, a national home medical equipment and service provider headquartered in Lake Forest, Calif., tests emergency preparedness plans in its 500 locations at least annually and consults with local or state disaster preparedness authorities.
Bob McLellan, general manager of Pacific Coast Medical Supply, which operates one branch, in Astoria, Oregon, said, “We have notified local hospital, law enforcement, fire departments, and our local am radio station of our status and availability of services during emergencies.”
For further results and information about the survey or home medical equipment providers preparations for emergencies, please visit the Newsroom at www.aahomecare.org.