Spectrum Health

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Pandemic Flu Exercise

In October 2008, Spectrum Health System in Central Michigan, received a competitive grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the State of Michigan to prepare a plan on how to deliver essential health care services during a pandemic influenza event. Spectrum Health coordinated this project in collaboration with providers in West and Central Michigan known in federal health care preparedness grant activities as Michigan Region 6. Project Partners established a number of committees and worked for nearly a year to develop a set of planning and operations guidelines that health care providers in a specific region could use to identify and provide essential health care services in a pandemic flu scenario.

Picture of a person sneezingAfter developing these draft proposed guidelines, the second phase of the grant proposed to test and validate the guidelines in an exercise. Spectrum Health coordinated a national search for a firm to assist in the design and conduct of this exercise. The competitive bid process resulted in proposals from nationally recognized firms as well as emergency preparedness consultants from within the State of Michigan. Contingency Management Consulting Group won the contract by demonstrating exceptional knowledge and expertise in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guidelines, as well as public health and hospital emergency planning.

CMCG followed HSEEP guidelines to establish an Exercise Planning Team composed of members of the Spectrum and Region 6 coalition. CMCG’s consultants, which included public health and hospital emergency planning experts assisted in developing a challenging pandemic flu scenario tailored to Michigan Region 6. Three planning conferences were conducted to develop, review and refine exercise materials.

Picture of a group working at a tableCMCG was challenged to think outside the box in order to develop an exercise conduct format that met all of the unique needs of Spectrum and its grant program. Ultimately, the exercise included elements of a traditional tabletop format, a workshop, and even a communications drill involving dispatchers using draft triage guidelines developed for a pandemic flu situation.

CMCG also supported conduct by providing a team of experienced and expert controllers and facilitators. By all accounts the exercise was a complete success, validating the draft planning guidelines developed by the Region’s committees. Nearly 50 organizations and over 130 individuals participated. The participant feedback forms, in a rating system from 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, gave an average grade for most measures of the exercise of over 4.