Hunkering down for flu season  

University action plan will help minimize effects of H1N1

By Anna Sarkissian

Going to class? Wash your hands. Taking the metro? Wash your hands. If Senior Advisor on Emergency Management Darren Dumoulin has one piece of advice for people who want to avoid getting the flu, it's wash your hands.

"The best means of protecting yourself are so simple," Dumoulin says, noting if you experience flu-like symptoms, staying home is the only sure-fire way of slowing the transmission within the university.

“H1N1 scares a lot of people. The media is going for the big story but people should educate themselves on the facts,” he says. “We’re lucky in the sense that it’s a mild influenza which is no worse than others.”

Dumoulin acknowledges the university can’t stop the spread of the seasonal flu or H1N1. Instead, they can implement measures to decrease the rate of infection so the university can continue to function.

Last week, Dean of Students Elizabeth Morey issued a bulletin to students about the virus, advising them to remain in isolation for at least 24 hours after their fever has subsided. Morey also told students that if they miss class or assignments due to illness they may notify their professors via email instead of getting a doctor’s note.

At the beginning of the semester, faculty members were alerted that they might have to modify their established curriculum to allow for more flexibility in the event large numbers of students are absent or classes are cancelled.

“It presents some interesting challenges for teachers. But people have been very receptive to the idea,” Dumoulin says.

At present, the university is closely monitoring staff absenteeism to identify which departments or areas might be experiencing higher-than-average absences due to illness. Each office is also supposed to design a Departmental Emergency Preparedness Plan to determine its critical functions and essential staff and identify areas that may require contingency planning.

Supervisors are also encouraged to relay consistent, accurate and current information to staff members about the situation.

In mid-November, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux is expecting to roll out their mass-immunization campaign against H1N1, having postponed seasonal flu vaccines until January 2010. The shots will most likely be available at MSSS sites around the city to all Canadians, including international students.

“Canada took a very strong position in that respect. We’re very fortunate,” says Dumoulin.

For questions or concerns about H1N1 contact Melanie Drew from Health Services at ext. 3581. Keep up to date on the latest announcements by visiting News@Concordia.


Concordia University