National Flu Outbreak Widens—Are You Prepared?

Checklist helps CUs prepare for and respond to one of the worst flu seasons in years.

January 22, 2013

Each flu season, nearly 111 million workdays are lost due to the flu. And this year's national flu epidemic is getting worse by the day.

Last Wednesday, for example, Boston declared a public health emergency after the virus claimed the lives of more than a dozen people, according to Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.

This year's flu season is expected to be one of the worst the country has seen in 10 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 states report widespread cases.

Agility offers a “seasonal influenza checklist” to help credit unions prepare for and respond to a serious flu outbreak:

►Establish a pandemic emergency team that cuts across all departments. Give each team member specific tasks and ensure that at least two people are fully knowledgeable of every responsibility.

Sample tasks include educating employees about the flu, establishing attendance guidelines, communicating with employees and members, developing an assignment sheet of who covers whom during an absence, and researching health coverage and screenings available to employees.

Identify who can work from home, and determine the process for conducting business at home.

Crosstrain employees, supervisors, and managers to cover other departments and geographic locations.

Make a priority list of every company location and the distance between them in case someone has to come in from another location. Include directions to get from one location to the next.

Develop a relationship with your local temporary personnel agencies for fill‐in employees as needed.

Evaluate and update your human resource, sick leave, and insurance policies.

Have team members sign up for alerts and timely announcements from state and local health departments, as well as from the national Centers for Disease Control.

Establish an alert notification system to communicate your policies, plans, decisions, and news updates to your employees, members, volunteers, and vendors.

Hold meetings and ‘run‐throughs’ to ensure that pandemic team members and employees understand what’s required of them in an emergency.

Prepare the workplace. Encourage employees to get flu vaccines and, if possible, offer vaccines free of charge or for a nominal fee onsite. Provide hand sanitizers in heavily trafficked areas, and clean all public‐area surfaces with germ‐killing solutions.

Other suggestions from Agility:

Consider replacing in-person business meetings with teleconferencing. If possible, allow employees to work from home.