Pandemic planning guide for homeless shelters

The guide for homeless shelters and housing service providers presents a basic, pragmatic, and concise approach to addressing the needs of a vulnerable and often forgotten segment of the population. It contains appropriate assumptions and planning elements to assist homeless and housing service providers in preparing and continuing to care for the homeless during a pandemic. The guide also articulates the need for managing large numbers of sick or deceased individuals and the ways in which standards of care may depend on the situation. It captures the input and guidance of a Vulnerable Populations Action Team that represents diverse stakeholders. A reviewer mentioned that after reading the guide, she had a clear idea of practices she could implement within a homeless shelter now and strategies she may need to use in the future. Although the guide's content could be emulated by other jurisdictions, officials may need to tailor its messages on PPE, management of deceased individuals, and appropriate homeless shelter contacts to current protocol used by their agencies. It is a useful primer for jurisdictions that are beginning to plan for shelter ramifications of pandemic influenza. It should be noted that the PPE suggested in this guide is limited to surgical masks. Homeless shelters should make an effort to purchase and use PPE recommended by their state or the CDC based on the characteristics of the influenza virus. Thus, a more current recommendation would include N95 masks, eye protectors and gloves, at least for those persons in direct contact with patients or ill people.

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