Administration creates pandemic plan in case of disease, viral outbreak

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    A communication plan is now in place in case of an outbreak of an airborne virus or disease. Campus Life has implemented a pandemic plan that includes ways of trafficking information to the public with extra phone lines and Web sites.

    Laura Crawley, assistant dean of campus life and health promotion, said the university is trying to be proactive by coordinating plans for an outbreak on campus.

    She said a pandemic could be the avian flu or even something the public doesn’t know about yet.

    The committee has established a plan to inform students about a pandemic on a need-be basis, Crawley said. It is important to share information that the campus can understand but, at the same time, not bombard students with too much information, she said.

    We are looking at a pandemic very broadly, and we are ready for any sort of catastrophic event that happens to the university,” Crawley said.

    Kristi Scott, a junior nursing major, said she feels safer because the university has implemented a plan and it is always better to be prepared rather than not.

    Phil Hartman, a biology professor, said planning for a pandemic is sort of like having life insurance: You hope you won’t need it but it is always good to have those plans available.

    “I think the more education you can give the better, but the truth is, people are not going to really sit up and take notice until it is inevitable that a pandemic might be upon us,” Hartman said.

    The initial planning for a pandemic began before Crawley started working at the university in 2005, Crawley said.

    It is important for students to have plans with their families in case of a pandemic because, “one of the best pieces of advice the university has given is there is nothing we can do better that you can’t do with your families,” Crawley said.

    Senior biology major Antoine Scott said he likes the idea of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. He said he thinks the university should protect its students and let everyone know it is a safe campus.

    TCU is not the only school in the area that has a plan of action for an outbreak.

    Bob Blum, director of health services at the University of Texas at Arlington, said a pandemic task force was formed there about a year ago. This task force consists of representatives from different organizations on campus, Blum said.

    Blum, chairman of the pandemic task force, said the members have been meeting every other week and have been working with Tarrant County Health Department as well as the City of Arlington to form a draft to be finalized today.

    Blum said the plan’s initial precautions direct students and faculty to distance themselves socially and to wash their hands in case of an outbreak.

    Once a vaccine is found, Blum said, the campus will be notified immediately so it can take the next step to stop the outbreak.

    The typical flu season ranges from November to March, with its peak in January and February, according to the Health Center Web site. The Health Center offers flu shots for $20, but there is not yet a bird flu vaccination.