The White House is hosting a H1N1 Summit today and sent out an email (text below) urging communities to begin public H1N1 preparedness/awareness campaigns. As far as I can tell, there’s no H1N1 preparedness happening in Northfield. There’s no information on the City of Northfield’s Emergency Information web page, nor on the Northfield Hospital’s Emergency Communication & Disaster Planning web page, nor on the Northfield School District’s site. (continued)
I blogged about this in April. And in May, the Nfld News reported that “local organizations are rolling out their emergency preparedness plans.”
But two months have gone by and there’s no public evidence of it.
Ten years ago, I was part of Northfield’s Ad Hoc Y2K Task Force that was meeting weekly at the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse. We had a private email list for the group to use for planning, and for the public, NCO/Northfield.org hosted a Y2K website and a very active discussion topic in the NCO Web Cafe. I wrote a piece titled Y2K: The Northfield Way that was part of MPR’s online Y2K Coverage.
It’s time for Northfield’s institutional leaders to begin an H1N1 public awareness/preparedness campaign and to include the use of social media in its communications toolkit.
Here’s the White House email:
John O. Brennan, The White House <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 10:55 AM
Subject: Preparing for H1N1 and the upcoming flu season
As the President’s advisor on Homeland Security, I am passing along the following message from Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, who are leading the efforts to prepare our Nation for the coming flu season.
This spring we were confronted with an outbreak of a troubling flu virus called 2009-H1N1. As the fall flu season approaches, it is critical that we reinvigorate our preparedness efforts across the country in order to mitigate the effects of this virus on our communities.
Today, we are holding an H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Summit in conjunction with the White House to discuss our Nation’s preparedness. We are working together to monitor the spread of 2009-H1N1 and to prepare to initiate a voluntary fall vaccination program against the 2009-H1N1 flu virus, assuming we have a safe vaccine and do not see changes in the virus that would render the vaccine ineffective.
But the most critical steps to mitigating the effects of 2009-H1N1 won’t take place in Washington — they will take place in your homes, schools and community businesses.
Taking precautions for this fall’s flu season is a responsibility we all share. Visit Flu.gov to make sure you are ready and learn how you can help promote public awareness.
We are making every effort to have a safe and effective vaccine available for distribution as soon as possible, but our current estimate is that it won’t be ready before mid-October. This makes individual prevention even more critical. Wash your hands regularly. Take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and if you do get sick, stay home from work or school.
We are doing everything possible to prepare for the fall flu season and encourage all Americans to do the same — this is a shared responsibility and now is the time to prepare.
Please visit Flu.gov to learn what steps you can take to prepare and do your part to mitigate the effects of H1N1.
Kathleen, Janet and Arne
In Friday’s NY Times: Obama Warns of Return of Swine Flu in the Fall.
The Rice County Public Health Department has a plan in place and they held a mock mass innoculation drill a few weeks ago at the county fairgrounds. Mary Ho, director of the county department, is, I believe, well informed and well prepared. She’s also an habitue of downtown Northfield — I can’t remember a time when I was downtown and didn’t see Mary. So…not to worry!
That’s good to know, Jim, but how’s the public supposed to know? There’s nothing about either A) the plan; nor B) the mass inoculation drill on the Rice County Public Health Department web page.
There was a story in the Faribault Daily News and a display outside the county board room for a couple of weeks.
Perhaps Ms. Obremski’s next assignment could be this very story!
Yeah, right. I took my son in to get him tested for h1n1, and was told that it wasn’t necessary because we don’t have it in Northfield. The doctor then asked him if he traveled to Mexico lately, and when my son said no (he’s 15) the doctor said that there’s no need to test. That totally blew my mind! I wondered if this doctor knew or read anything about h1n1.
I forgot to add, that was last week, after the 4th of July weekend when we were traveling outside of Northfield. Yikes!
I got this email from Supt. Chris Richardson:
I got this email from Mary Ho, Director of Public Health for Rice County:
I asked Mary Ho about tomorrow’s county-wide meeting on H1N1 planning.
1. Will you be able to post detailed info after your meeting tomorrow on your website? Include the names of all the people and their organizations?
2. Is the meeting open to the media? The public? If so, when and where is it?
Chris Richardson alerted me to the update now posted to the district’s web site:
Mary Ho at Rice County Public Health has a PDF posted with the agenda and minutes of the July 22 meeting:
Aug. 19 Nfld News: Schools, county work together on H1N1 plan
Aug 22 Strib: As flu looms, Minnesota schools prepare for worst
Aug 22 Strib: A college flu challenge: Isolation in a dorm room
Aug 7 MPR: State officials review new H1N1 guidelines for schools
Aug 11 MPR: State officials outline plans for next wave of H1N1
Mary Ho at Rice County Public Health
will bewas a guest on our show nextthis week.
MPR: Fall flu preparations in full swing
Strib: Minnesota preparing for flu’s worst
In today’s Strib: H1N1 flu is here and ‘gaining steam’ (I edited their headline to use the correct term for the flu):
From the Department of Redundancy Department on the Rice County Health page, there’s a sidebar link to What is Rice County doing to be ready for health emergencies?
where we’re given no information but two links:
As H1N1 gets ready to peak in MN, there is still no visible public communications infrastructure in place for Rice County.
I know, I know, the behind-the-scenes planning team has everything in place, the flu symptoms are mild for most people, and we, the public, should just wash our hands a lot.
But if the pandemic shit hits the proverbial fan, it would be very helpful to have ONE SINGLE ONLINE RESOURCE that radio, tv, newpapers, and blogs could all promote as The Go-To Trusted Source for near real-time information, rumor dispelling, and calm leadership. A blog and a Twitter account is all it would take. Cost: zero.
There are a number of reported cases of H1N1 on campus at St. Olaf–and no doubt at Carleton as well. It’s here.
Posted to the Strib website an hour ago: Lakeville school loses quarter of students to ‘flu-like sickness’
There have been a couple of excellent articles in the New York Times this week on H1N1 influenza vaccination, and anxiety about influenza vaccination:
MPR News health reporter Lorna Benson is hosting a live chat about H1N1 at noon today:
I called the Allina Clinic yesterday to make an appointment to get both the seasonal and H1N1 shots and was told they are out of both. Anyone know whether there are other places in town where shots are available? Or, is there a shortage everywhere?
Jane, the lack of local information about H1N1 still astounds me. I don’t know the answer to your questions.
The Northfield Hospital has a new helpful but still generic H1N1 page at:
Anyone know if the Nfld Hospital has instituted restrictions on visitations?
MPR: Hospitals revise visiting policies due to H1N1
Griff, you wrote:
People with coughs (let alone fevers) have always been requested to defer their visits until they are well. We’ve been more vigilant in enforcing this policy this year. I’m not aware of any further regulations that have been implemented, but I’m heading to the hospital this morning – I’ll try to remember to ask.
Griff (19) :
I have to give kudos to the school district for their communication on H1N1–they have had daily postings on what’s going on, how many kids are out sick and at which schools. Other places in town have not been so forthcoming (for example, Carleton) started to post what they said were “weekly” updates, but nothing’s been updated from Oct 2.
I’m pretty sure I now have h1n1–very worried about infecting my kids (and realize it’s probably inevitable–but for now I’m not letting them come in my room and I stay in my room when they are home-) . This is a miserable illness, and had shots been available I would definitely have signed up. My clinic is very vague on when stuff will be available–I realize it’s because they don’t know for sure, but it seems like they, like the school district, could post updates on their website around vaccine availability.
Thank god I got a seasonal flu shot at Carleton when I could.
Thanks much for that update, Kathie. Get better! And stay the hell away from me. 😉
I am confused (as usual).
If the regular flu kills around 20000 people every year, what raises the swine flu to a different level?
Why aren’t we declaring every flu season a national emergency.
How is the swine flu threat different from a regular flu threat?
We knew about the swine flu since spring. if all agree that the swin e flu is so much more dangerous than regular flu….why don’t we have vaccination available? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to focus resources on the greater threat..rather than “wasting time” making vacines for the regular flu?
I just hope it is not one of those “Never let a crisis go to waste”?
The Northfield Hospital is now limiting visitors:
Patrick, did the Waseca Hospital administrator’s H1N1-related death over the weekend contribute to the Northfield Hospital’s decision today to limit visitors?
Today’s Strib: Empty desks, offices: Cities plan for H1N1
It would be great if the City of Northfield could update its Emergency Information web page on similar behind-the-scenes activities. So far, nothing.
Hey, Rice County Health has two PDF updates, Oct 18 and Oct 25, on its page.
Yay! Go go Mary Ho!
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