The paper lists several benefits to this proposed approach: 1) It uses existing governmental infrastructure; 2) It reduces patient flow to acute healthcare facilities; 3) It provides tailored medical information to state residents and visitors; 4) It tracks pandemic activity; 5) It augments existing influenza prophylaxis and treatment programs; 6) It supports the state pandemic strategy to encourage social distancing and containment; and 7) It addresses specialized medical needs of populations affected by a pandemic. This concept provides planners with a proposed structure for coordination between local public health agencies and acute care facilities.
Although this is only a concept paper, the guidance for providing outreach and coordination among special populations may require a significant amount of background work before this practice could be implemented. Special populations would need to be mapped extensively before the outbreak, because the location and concentration of populations will dictate resource allocation. The need for language interpreters during an 8-12 week pandemic phase would be high, and media messages would need to be provided in languages spoken throughout the community.
The clinical aspects of this report may be useful for jurisdictions and clinical systems that need a framework for public-private collaboration and management of patient volume during an influenza pandemic. One reviewer mentioned that jurisdictions should not rely on a phone center to control patient flow to hospitals, since people have traditionally reported first to hospitals during a disaster. Although practical concerns would need attention before this concept could be implemented, the guidance may be useful to state health agencies that are beginning to coordinate medical care and outreach across counties.