Combating pandemic planning fatigue

first_img(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) – Business people convinced of the possibility of an influenza pandemic agree: Convincing reluctant managers, organizing continuity planning, and educating employees can be challenging.But if getting better prepared for a pandemic is tough, business managers say, keeping prepared is tougher.It’s bad enough, they agree, to have to convince reluctant managers and educate busy employees that a pandemic will be unlike any other hazard a company might face, like earthquakes, hurricanes, or terrorism. Such events are local or regional and occur over minutes to hours. Recovery resources from other areas of the country can be accessed quickly and the recovery process begun–even in the face of physical destruction.But for those responsible for private-sector pandemic preparedness, what remains untested and unclear is how companies and organizations will respond. How stable, for example, will today’s public utilities be? Will companies supplying critical parts or services be able to deliver? How many employees will come to work and over what period? The unknowns can be so confounding as to bring preparedness activities to a halt.Another challenge is finding reliable sources and information to act on for both meaningful planning and for delivering company information campaigns and training.After that, they say, comes the truly hard part: Sustaining the planning effort over the long haul.Experts say that preparing well for a catastrophic event takes time, thought, and repetition–but the more time that elapses, and the more repetitions employees go through, the more likely it is they will develop planning fatigue.Pan flu war games”This is a very serious issue,” said Len Pagano, president and CEO of the SafeAmerica Foundation, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization that has staged pandemic-planning business summits in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. “If you come up with a plan, and then over a year you don’t touch the plan, you won’t only forget key points in the plan–you’ll begin to think the whole issue isn’t very important.”But keeping up awareness of the possible consequences of a pandemic–a global event that could last 8 to 12 weeks in any one location, cause up to 24 months of disruption around the globe, and kill 200,000 to 1.9 million just in the United States, according to the US government–is as essential as it is challenging.Pagano and the SafeAmerica Foundation recently landed on a new idea: They are staging a war game, with flu as the enemy.The exercise will last a week and take place in 2 to 6 plants belonging to a Fortune 100 heavy-industrial company that asked not to be identified for competitive reasons. The company will ask its workers to follow the social-distancing techniques that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends as a first-line defense. SafeAmerica will observe employees to gauge compliance, then report to the company’s management what recommendations were followed or ignored.An actual pandemic, of course, will last months and mean that employees will be subjected to many other stressors (loss of loved ones, trouble finding food or routine drugs for themselves or family members) that will change how employees respond during the real event. But if the experiment is successful, Pagano said, it will deliver what scenario exercises lack: the energy and creativity provoked by a real-time challenge.Keeping plans freshKeeping fresh in pandemic planning is a preoccupation for Steve Bergfeld, vice president of corporate services and administration at Baxter Healthcare Corp. of Illinois, part of Baxter International Inc.Baxter makes a range of medications and medical devices, including home dialysis solutions. The company is in a category the government calls critical infrastructure: 14 business sectors (from food production to energy to banking to information technology) that must keep functioning during a crisis in order for the United States to keep running.”As I go around and talk to my colleagues, everybody is saying the same thing: How do you keep this [planning] as a front-burner issue when we have so many other priorities and so much demanding our time,” Bergfeld said.Bergfeld was brought to Baxter 10 months ago to head a threat-management team of 23 people. The company’s process is arduous: monthly meetings to rank facilities worldwide against a list of “accountabilities”; regional audits that score facilities on 7 aspects of pandemic and disaster planning; on-site inspections; and tabletop exercises. Yet “I am always looking for new tools, new resources . . . the next creative way to keep this in front of people,” Bergfeld said.Mega-retailer Target Corporation, which has 7,000 employees just in its Minneapolis headquarters, formed a 30-person pandemic response team a year ago to work with its existing business continuity experts, who, up to then, had chiefly anticipated store closures due to natural disasters such as hurricanes as well as technology crises such as crashes in the company’s worldwide electronic networks.”What we do for business continuity prepares us for pandemic planning, and pandemic planning becomes a scenario within business continuity that we haven’t addressed in the past,” said Birch Holt, Target’s manager of business continuation.The pandemic team, Holt said, draws broadly from throughout the company, including representatives from crisis management, merchandising, and government affairs in addition to the pre-existing business continuation department.They began meeting in January 2006, starting with face-to-face, twice-monthly gatherings of at least an hour, initially mapping out plans for each major division, using pandemic flu–related information from the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and the World Health Organization (www.who.int) as well as a private risk-information company. With most of Target’s divisional plans now written and under review by senior management, the team has cut back to hour-long, face-to-face meetings once a month.Target will shortly hold its first pandemic tabletop exercise. Participants will represent each company sector that has prepared written plans. The results, Holt said, will expose new vulnerabilities to think through.Holt acknowledges that written documents (no matter how thought-out and granular) are not enough. On a board near his desk, he keeps a saying he attributes to World War II general and President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “In preparing for battle, I have found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”last_img read more

New Year’s resolutions are kicking in as downsizers get moving

first_imgIngenia Lifestyle resort BethaniaThe new designs also give more consideration to functionality and geared at enabling downsizers to lock up and leave to travel. “Lifestyle-focused land lease communities are one of the fastest and most popular trends for downsizers, setting new benchmarks in affordable seniors living,” Ms Manson said. “They are specifically tailored to the needs of active seniors allowing them to secure ownership of a brand new home that is easier to manage with lower maintenance costs.”Land lease communities offer some extra benefits to their residents, such as no entry or exit fees and no stamp duty fees. Ms Manson said for some it could also be the first time they were eligible for rent assistance, which contributed to more money in their pockets. Sales inquiries at Ingenia Lifestyle resort at Bethania are spiking as the over 50s seek a lifestyle upgrade.NEW Year’s resolutions are kicking in as Logan locals look to downsize and sort out their retirement.Ingenia Lifestyle project sales manager Sharon Manson said a combination of changes to the pension and New Year’s resolutions seemed to be encouraging over 50s to seek a new lifestyle.She said she had seen a spike in the number of sales inquiries in recent weeks at Ingenia Lifestyle Bethania as people started to look at the year ahead and decided to downsize to a more manageable sized home.“The pension changes are also forcing some to consider new housing options and pursue a lifestyle based on independence, health and wellbeing,” Ms Manson said. To keep up with demand Ingenia Lifestyle Bethania has just revealed new homes and floor plans giving buyers more choices to create and personalise their new home.Brand new homes are available from just $299,000 for a two bedroom home, with four new display homes and five new floor plan designs to choose from. More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home2 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor8 hours agoAll homes feature modern entertainers kitchens, open plan living and dining areas with integrated outdoor space. last_img read more

Bacolod eyes P125-M fund for ‘blended learning’

first_imgBACOLOD City – The Department of Education (DepEd) has proposed to the city government a budget of P125 million for distance or blended learning for this school year 2020-2021.This was stressed by Councilor Renecito Novero, chairman of the Committee on Education, following a meeting with Mayor Evelio Leonardia and officials of DepEd-Bacolod at the New Government Center on June 21.DepEd city schools superintendent Gladys Amylaine Sales said during the meeting the budget is for establishment of a radio tower and for the purchase of gadgets such as laptops and tablets for teachers, among others.According to Novero, DepEd’s delivery modalities this school year include modular distance learning, online distance learning and television/radio-based instructions.“So, we will provide audio or radio-based instruction through an FM Station frequency,” said Novero.“We will use the radio-based instruction so we can deliver distance learning to rural areas in the city. Since we don’t have the face-to-face classes because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, we can use this delivery mode,” he added.Novero said the budget will be sourced from the Special Education Fund of the local government unit but might still be reduced.Another meeting will be conducted to finalize how much fund will be provided by this city to DepEd, he added./PNlast_img read more

Fosters puts young David on map

first_img Press Association The 18-year-old rider said: “He was the perfect horse to start with and he owes myself or dad nothing at this stage. Coming to the last I took a pull and he had plenty left after the last.” The trainer added: “Fosters Cross has had a hard season and didn’t run too bad for Bryan Cooper at Punchestown the last day. “We freshened him up after that and he really came back to himself in the last 10 days and it was a nice pot to get. He’ll probably pull out again at Leopardstown over Christmas. “I’m thrilled to give David his first win as a professional and he rode him very professionally. He wasn’t put off turning professional by any of his uncles!” Black Zero won an action-packed race for the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase. With several of his main market rivals failing to complete, the 7-4 favourite took advantage of what became an easier task as he followed up his first success at Gowran last month. Ballyadam Approach fell at the second-last when jousting for the lead, and Johnny Burke brought Michael McDonagh’s contender through to take charge at the final fence and go on to score by four lengths from Killtilane Rose. McDonagh said: “He jumped well. He’s in at Limerick now on St Stephen’s Day and if he comes out of this OK he’ll go there. If not, we’ll have to wait.” First reserve Betterthanalright (12-1) made the most of his chance to lift the Molony Cup Handicap Chase. Liam Casey’s eight-year-old got in the three-mile contest after the late defection of Adams Wood and proceeded to lead all the way for a seven-length victory over the 9-4 favourite Its The Ice I Like in the hands of Kevin Sexton. The 12-year-old (14-1) provided the 7lb claimer, son of trainer Tom Mullins, with a red-letter day in what was a typically game performance. The stable stalwart reeled in Mrs Mac Veale going to the final flight and after jumping into the lead, scampered clear to score by three and three-quarter lengths. center_img Fosters Cross gave young rider David Mullins his first winner as a professional when rolling back the years with the 13th success of his career in the Horse & Jockey Handicap Hurdle at Thurles.last_img read more