Michigan hospitals track bioterror

Nine Michigan hospitals are participating in a statewide surveillance pilot program to track potential bioterrorist attacks, infectious disease outbreaks, and other public health emergencies. The syndromic surveillance system focuses on assembling information as close to real time as possible from the hospitals, which would allow for early detection and intervention.

If the system detects an outbreak or emergency, an automated response will be sent to epidemiologists at the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), which then will analyze the findings and investigate further.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association is helping coordinate the effort, which will be expanded later this year to include more hospitals. The system is guided by a steering committee made up of representatives of MDCH, local health departments, regional hospital bioterrorism coordinators, medical directors, and participating facilities.

The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, go to: www. hrsa.gov/bioterrorism/.

Nursing organization adopts 2004 platforms

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) in Washington, DC, a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association, has unveiled its policy platforms. The major policies are:

• Foreign Nurse Recruitment

AONE supports the lawful entry of nurses from foreign countries to work in the United States and its territories provided they meet all federal qualifications for entry and practice.

It is incumbent upon institutions that recruit foreign nurses to foster an environment that is culturally sensitive and supportive as these nurses are assimilated into the American health care system.

• Mandatory Overtime

It is the view of AONE that mandatory overtime is the staffing vehicle of last resort, limited to crisis situations that would put patients in danger of not receiving the basic requirements of the safe care that they require.

• Mandated Staffing Ratios

AONE does not support mandated nurse-staffing ratios. Mandatory nurse staffing ratios only will serve to increase stress on a health care system that is overburdened by an escalating national and international shortage of registered professional nurses and has the potential to create a greater risk to public safety.

The AONE policy statement can be found on its web site (www.hospitalconnect.com).