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Message to Employees

9/1/2009

To Bowdoin Employees:
 
I am writing to provide information about College contingency plans for dealing with the H1N1 virus, commonly known as “swine flu,” and what you can do to prevent the spread of this illness.
 
To date, the illness hasn’t been any more severe than the seasonal flu, but it does seem to be transmitted easily and move through residential communities such as ours quite rapidly.  While we expect an outbreak of the flu, as happens every year, our goal is to minimize the number of students and employees who become ill.
 
Bowdoin's Campus Emergency Management Team (CEMT) maintains plans to deal with a variety of emergency situations, including health emergencies. A plan dealing with influenza has been modified specifically to address the H1N1 flu. This plan, which would be enacted if confirmed cases appear on campus, was developed in consultation with healthcare, emergency management, public safety and government officials, and includes infection control measures and protocols for the care of affected individuals on campus.
 
What this means for Bowdoin employees:

  • The College subsidizes regular seasonal flu vaccinations for employees (resulting in a $10 per vaccine cost) and strongly encourages faculty and staff to take advantage of this offer. Due to the nature of their work, the vaccine is offered free of charge to Dining, Children’s Center and Housekeeping employees. These vaccinations will be offered in September; employees who do not want to wait for the seasonal flu vaccine may obtain it from their primary care provider;
  • The College will not be providing an H1N1-specific vaccination for employees. Employees, especially those with chronic medical conditions, are encouraged to contact their primary care provider about obtaining the H1N1 vaccination when it becomes available;
  • Employees who become symptomatic, or who are caring for symptomatic family members, are strongly encouraged to stay home from work, contact their supervisor and see their own healthcare provider. For the sake of our entire community and others with high-risk conditions, and to further encourage symptomatic employees to stay home through the illness and not expose others, we will not require a doctor’s note for absences related to the flu;
  • Should local schools or daycare centers close and childcare becomes an issue, the College will provide further instruction;
  • Pregnant women who become symptomatic should consult their physician;
  • Provisions have been made to diagnose, isolate, treat, feed and care for ill students on campus. In some cases, ill students will be isolated in temporary accommodations identified by CEMT;
  • Classes, events and activities will continue as scheduled unless notified otherwise; and
  • Hand sanitizer stations and informational posters have been placed throughout the campus as a public health and education measure.

 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes H1N1 flu symptoms:
 
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
 
The CDC's recommendations to reduce your risk of becoming infected:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Wash hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home if you're sick, especially if you have a fever

More information can be found on the following Web sites:
 

Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/swine-flu-2009.shtml

Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

 
The College has created an H1N1 Web site that will be updated as events warrant to direct members of the Bowdoin community to the latest information about H1N1, and to provide information about ongoing preparedness efforts at the College:
http://www.bowdoin.edu/health/health-issues/h1n1-flu.shtml
 
Thank you for your attention to these important details and for helping to maintain a healthy and safe workplace at Bowdoin.
Best,
 
Tama
 
 
Tamara Spoerri
Director, Human Resources
Bowdoin College
3500 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011
207-725-3838 (p)
207-725-3976 (f)