When the swine flu outbreak occurred in 2009, institutions that fostered large groups of people in relatively confined areas became notably susceptible to the quickly spreading virus that caused most unpleasant symptoms including fever, headache, diarrhea, muscle aches, chills and fatigue.
For example, a university setting is the perfect breeding ground for infected students to pass along the disease as they are constantly in close quarters in locations such as dorm rooms, communal dining areas and classrooms.
This became problematic for officials at Algonquin College in Illinois, who worried that student health centers would be invaded by a combination of infected students seeking treatment and healthy students seeking preventative measures to avoid the virus. And with all these individuals situated in a cramped waiting room, it would have been easy for germs to spread from person to person.
In order to minimize the spread of the disease in this manner, the university deployed an automated solution in which a virtual secretary called student cell phones and asked them a series of questions to assess their health without having to send the student to a communal health facility.
Consequently, university officials were able to assess the depth of the virus in the student population and then deploy individual treatment to minimize disease spreading.
By partnering with a certified pandemic preparedness consultant, other communities that have members associating in close quarters would be able to draft similarly innovative solutions into their business continuity plan to best protect the community during periods of rapidly spreading disease.
For example, in addition to automated phone calls that analyze the health of a specific population without needing to overburden healthcare facilities, a preparedness consultant can ensure that the community is equipped with face masks and rubber gloves for those individuals requiring detailed, interpersonal care.
Furthermore, a pandemic preparedness consultant can help identify other areas that provide a high risk of disease spreading – for example large fraternity parties – and ensure that such functions are paused until the disease is better controlled.