A pandemic flu could wipe out a third of the work force, such concerns prompted the Governor to sign an executive order to better prepare the state and create a shared leave pool to keep sick employees at home. The emergency pandemic shared leave program would not go into effect until there is a Governor’s Declaration of Statewide Emergency.
"Under the shared leave program, employees could donate annual leave that could go to a pool that would be used by employees who are ill so they may not have enough leave time for the time that they need to be off to recover or to be with family members so this would help them out," said state department of health spokesman Nanci Gonder.
Keeping those who already have the flu at home could keep it from continuing to spread, she said.
"If we’re in a pandemic situation we will very likely be needing people if they’re ill or have ill family members to stay home so the virus can be contained as much as possible," Gonder said.
A pandemic flu outbreak won’t go unnoticed.
"We have the world’s attention watching for any changes for in patterns of flu that’s out there," she said. "In earlier, some of the earlier pandemics there wasn’t really a lot of warning because the science wasn’t there the way it is now and the disease detection and watching. Now, we have a lot of things in place and we will be able to recognize very quickly if there is a new strain of flu that is starting to spread and we will be able to put the tools in place to stop the spread as much as possible."
State agencies have all created a plan to continue delivering critical services if an outbreak occurs. If a pandemic flu outbreak does happen, Gonder said, Missouri’s healthcare system is prepared to handle a surge of patients.
The state health department has developed various tools for communities, businesses and the healthcare system to prepare for a pandemic influenza outbreak.