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Borough cancels door-to-door H1N1 flu information campaign

Emergency management coordinator nixes plan out of concerns for safety of young people

Emergency management coordinator nixes plan out of concerns for safety of young people

October 09, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- The Borough of Greencastle will not send volunteers door-to-door in town with information about H1N1, or the swine flu virus, as it originally planned.

Emergency Management Coordinator Ben Thomas Jr. said he decided against his plan to take information around to residents because daylight is rapidly fading. He said he plans instead to have the information available around town.

"I am canceling the door-to-door campaign for H1N1 handout distribution due to the fall season's arrival and lack of daylight for the safety of the young people who would be volunteering," he said. "Their well-being is very important to me, as they would be on and along the streets after dark."

Thomas proposed disseminating the information in September to the borough council, asking for its approval.

Not every borough household has access to daily media or Internet resources on H1N1, Thomas said in September.

Even with an overwhelming amount of information available, Thomas said he feared that some borough residents could still be in the dark about the virus.

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"The best way to contact every individual is to put a pamphlet in their hands," he said previously.

Borough Council members lent their support to Thomas' idea of gathering volunteers to deliver the handouts through town.

Because swine flu is rapidly spread by an infected person, it is in the borough's best interest to educate its citizens about prevention and preparation regarding the virus, he said to the council.

Concerned about infected residents flooding area hospitals, he proposed a means to educate them about risks and treatment of swine flu before the flu season arrived.

Summit Health expressed similar concerns and has been asking residents to thoroughly consider whether or not they need emergency care.

On Wednesday, the health care conglomerate began asking parents to not bring children younger than 18 to the hospital to visit patients unless the patient's doctor grants permission.

Citing the surge in flu-like symptoms reported in Franklin County schools, Dr. Thomas Anderson, vice president of medical affairs for Summit Health, said in a press release that the children could be carriers of the virus.

"This is just a temporary change until this situation passes," he said. "We need to limit our patients' exposure to visitors under 18 because of the likelihood that students have interacted with sick classmates and are carrying the flu virus."

Education is key to curtailing the spread of swine flu, Thomas said.

Describing the proposed pamphlet as a "quick read," Thomas said he planned to compile key information about H1N1 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Even though volunteers will not be going door-to-door in Greencastle with information, the handouts will still be distributed, he said.

He said he hopes to have the copies available in banks, at the Chamber of Commerce, and in stores and businesses throughout the community. Businesses will be provided with a handout for employees, he said.

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