According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the domestic flu season typically peaks in February. But this year the influenza virus has not only come early, but it comes comprised mainly of the H3N2 strain – which unfortunately is not covered by this season’s vaccine.
As a result, the CDC has issued a health advisory stating that only 48 percent of flu virus samples taken through December 2014 were closely related to this year’s vaccine, indicating a high probability for more disease outbreaks.
If you’re a meeting planner, that means you need to be prepared for an influx of potentially ill event attendees. But how?
Be Proactive Against The Flu
As the number of 2015 flu sufferers will continue to rise, you should count on a number of attendees either needing medical attention while at your conference, or missing your conference altogether. However there are precautions that you can take: Communicate to attendees and inform them NOT to attend the meeting if they are feeling ill and feverish. Make hand sanitizer available to attendees. Create a contingency plan that takes the possibility of a large number of ill attendees into account.
Create Your Contingency Plan
The most obvious solution to treating ill attendees may be to send them to local emergency room or urgent care center. However, neither option offers an immediate solution, for as these centers will most likely be overcrowded with sick or injured patients, wait times could increase to upwards of eight hours for patients with non-life threatening conditions.
Another option might be utilizing the services of hotel doctors. Again, this option is not ideal: Hotel doctors are rarely associated with the hotel, and often are non-credited doctors with questionable qualifications, available only as part of a call network.
Offer On-site Support
Consider offering your attendees on-site medical support. Depending on the level of care you choose for the meeting-site clinic to provide, your attendees could have access to quality 24-hour care comparable to that of local services.
Not only can these on-site “clinics” handle everything from a sore throat to more life-threatening situations, they also offer advantages to both you and your attendees: Their value-based system actually allows you to financially benefit, whereas their close proximity to your meeting offers attendees an extra level of comfort and security.
This year’s flu season has already reached epidemic levels, and the time to address it is now. Put precautions into place, communicate the situation to your attendees and create your contingency plan. You can always send your attendees to local emergency rooms and urgent care centers, or to the dubious hotel doctor, but perhaps now is the time for you to invest in a value-based meeting-site health clinic and offer your attendees a service above and beyond the norm.