H1N1 Influenza was declared a public health emergency in April 2009. The department of Corporate Quality and Infection Prevention at the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) immediately initiated an emergency response to manage all suspected influenza patients entering DMC. An important step in this response was to get accurate and valuable information to healthcare workers in a timely fashion. To assess the efficacy of the communication efforts, the department of Infection Prevention sent out an online survey to employees. The results of the survey were used to determine the strengths and the weaknesses of our communications during the H1N1 outbreak. The responses received will help improve communication during future events.
The objective of the survey was to determine the strengths and the weaknesses of our communications during the H1N1 outbreak. The responses received will help improve communication during future events.
An online survey to assess DMC’s emergency preparedness, notification and communication during the H1N1 outbreak was sent out to employees during the week of June 15th. The survey utilized the Likert scale for most questions. Responses were analyzed using SAS and Excel.
We received a total of 740 responses. 383 (51.8%) of the respondents were RNs. Most respondents thought that the response to the flu was excellent: 84% felt that DMC responded promptly to the outbreak and 86% felt that the information received from DMC was easy to understand. Although the overall response was very positive, nurses and respiratory therapists (RTs; n=70) appeared somewhat less satisfied: only 50% of RNs and 44% of RTs were aware of who was leading response efforts to H1N1 at their sites compared to the rest of survey respondents (80%) (p<0.001). Compared to other respondents, significantly fewer RNs and RTs were aware of who to contact in case they were uncertain how to respond to an H1N1-related issue (62% for RNs and RTs and 80% for other respondents, p<0.001). As compared to other departments, fewer percentage of emergency department(ED) staff felt that infection control was readily available to provide information and resources pertinent to H1N1 (48% and 71%, p<0.001). Comparing nurse respondents in various departments, a higher percentage of ED nurses (n=68) felt that they received too many e-mails regarding H1N1 (34% compared to 6% of other nurses (p<0.001).
Overall, respondents felt that the Department of Infection Prevention responded well and in a timely manner to the H1N1 outbreak. Subsequently, efforts have been made to raise awareness among nurses and RTs and in the ED regarding leadership, resources and the availability of infection control personnel in responding to pandemics. The number and length of e-mails has been decreased and more information is maintained on a comprehensive website.