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Responding to pandemic flu

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East Otter Tail is bracing itself for the flu season.

An estimated 30,000 people are killed annually from complications related to flu, said Karen Meyer, emergency preparedness director at the Perham Memorial Hospital. The flu and the H1N1 virus was one of the topics at the Perham chamber of Commerce "Power Hour" Tuesday morning. Also speaking was Mary Mayer, director of quality at PMHH.

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They recommended that people get the seasonal flu shots in September. In mid-October, H1N1 shots will be available on a priority basis to those at highest risk.

The H1N1 shots will be administered by Otter Tail County Public Health, and schedules will be released soon.

A "Responding to Pandemic Influenza" program will be held in Perham on September 17, from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

This session is designed to support the state of Minnesota in preparing to deal with a possible moderate to severe pandemic influenza by providing education on the emotional and psychosocial impact of a pandemic influenza.

Most of the time people do just fine on their own when confronted with an uncommon or overwhelming situation, but often people simply need a caring person to listen and to assist them. Assisting an individual during a difficult and stressful situation can provide hope, and increase resilience.

Objectives of the session include: providing participants with basic information about the H1N1 pandemic influenza; familiarizing participants with the psychosocial and social consequences of pandemic influenza; teaching participants how to utilize key principals of psychological first aid to assist themselves, their families, their community, and their co-workers during a pandemic influenza; learning self care by recognizing signs and symptoms of personal stress, initiating strategies to improve performance and assist peers; and identifying the basic principles for incident command.

The program will be held at Perham Memorial Hospital and Home in the Perham Board Room. It is sponsored by West Central Minnesota Regional Healthcare Systems Preparedness Program.

The following people should plan on attending the pandemic influenza meeting: healthcare personnel, first responders, local public health officials, human services workers, community support services, clergy, educators, media, families, individuals, and disaster volunteers. .

Instructors are Jared Swanson, EMT-B and Joe Majerus, LSW with Glacial Ridge Health System Emergency Services & Training.

For more informationcontact Karen Meyer, Perham Memorial Hospital, at 218-346-1147 or email kmeyer@pmhh.com.

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