Lexington hosts H1N1 Summit

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The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead in preparing businesses around the state to deal with the swine flu virus.

Friday's H1N1 Summit at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington was designed to help business owners determine their preparedness should the pandemic become rampant.

Speakers were brought in with expertise in such things as planning, risk management, and infection prevention. Ruth Carrico, a University of Louisville professor who specializes in infection prevention, told 27 NEWSFIRST prior to her talk, "If businesses haven't already started a continuity plan, we hope this summit will provide them with the motivation to do so."

Some health care and pharmaceutical companies will flourish during a flu pandemic, but they too must plan on workers taking more sick days.
Businesses are being advised to expect employee absenteeism up to 30 per cent of their work force.

Ruth Carrico says, "We have to rely on people to have the grocery store open, the discount store for me to gather home items. We really don't think about the depth of our need for our community to stay operational until there's a potential such as with H1N1 to disrupt that."

Carrico hates to think about what could happen if another ice storm were to occur at a time when the power company has a high number of sick workers. "We need our basic services. We need our utilities to stay on. We need our garbage collected. We need our routine businesses to stay operational so we really have to look at this as a community issue."

According to Carrico, some forward thinking business owners are willing to pay to have their employees immunized. "If businesses are insuring that their work force is immunized against both seasonal flu and swine flu, they will have far less absenteeism and far fewer days off, and that makes it an economic issue as well."

Louisville will host its own H1N1 Summit on October 9.

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