Aug

26

Columbia’s Swine Flu Update

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The announcement Monday that swine flu could hospitalize up to 1.8 million Americans has sparked a new flurry of news hysteria over the virus. Even before the announcement, universities were busy preparing for the virus in the fall. Now it’s Columbia’s turn: in an email to students from Student Life Dean Kevin Shollenberger, GS Interim Dean Scott Halvorson, and Health Services VP Samuel Seward, the school outlines its plans for the virus. 

Like other schools, most of the steps outlined in the email are education-oriented. “Educational fliers are posted throughout campus and in the residence halls,” reads the email, “and alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap dispensers are provided in public gathering places such as dining areas, computer labs and customer service desks.” As for vaccinations, Health Services plans advertise its free flu shots widely when students return, and promises to share information regarding any H1N1 vaccine “immediately.”

As for anyone who comes down with the disease, “if you have influenza-like illness, such as persistent fever combined with muscle aches or fatigue, please remember it is important for you to avoid attending classes and public activities until you are well again.” Health Services even recommends students who can should commute home. Full email after the jump


Dear Student:

We are looking forward to your arrival on campus and an exciting school year.  As we prepare for the start of the fall term, Columbia wants to share some important information about staying healthy during flu and cold season.

As you may know, cases of swine Influenza A (H1N1) are still being reported nationally as well as in the New York City area.  Most of these cases have been reported as mild.  Columbia’s experts continue to closely monitor the spread of H1N1 on the international, national and local levels, and to implement plans to protect your health during

your time as a student.

Since H1N1 first emerged in the spring, Student Affairs, Housing and Dining Services, and Health Services have collaborated on ways to educate students and keep you healthy. One of the most important measures you can take to protect yourself and your classmates is to practice preventive hygiene to limit the potential spread of disease.

To help with this, educational fliers are posted throughout campus and in the residence halls, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap dispensers are provided in public gathering places such as dining areas, computer labs and customer service desks.

To provide you with the latest information and help answer your questions about flu and H1N1, the University is also regularly updating the Preparedness website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/studentservices/preparedness.   We encourage you to use this website as a central resource for information, and for frequent updates on ways to stay healthy this year.

Hygiene is the foremost protective measure everyone can take, but the most effective way to protect against seasonal flu is to get a vaccine.  As we do each year, Health Services will provide seasonal flu vaccines at no cost to the Columbia community during the fall. Information about how to get your free flu shot will be widely distributed on campus in September.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that a separate vaccine for the H1N1 virus is under development and could be available later this fall.  As soon as we have information outlining the national distribution guidelines for the H1N1 vaccine, we will immediately share that information with the entire student body.

During the school year, if you have influenza-like illness, such as persistent fever combined with muscle aches or fatigue, please remember it is important for you to avoid attending classes and public activities until you are well again. In fact, if your family lives within commuting distance, it is best for you to recuperate at home. If you stay on campus, you should remain in your residence hall room, and Housing and Dining can help provide services while you recover. In either case, the CDC recommends that you remain in your residence for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever. (Note: It is most accurate to check your temperature after you have discontinued the use

of Tylenol or Motrin.)

If you become ill during the school year, please contact:

Health Services at Columbia, 212-854-2284, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

A nurse will be available to speak with you and provide advice on how to seek appropriate care, and also advise you when you are well enough to resume participation in normal academic and campus activities. In addition, the Health Services staff can provide you with a number to call in Housing and Dining to ask about other services you might need while you are ill.  As always, we encourage you to maintain strong communication with your family about your personal health.

If you are too ill to attend classes, you should also immediately contact your Advising Dean to make alternate arrangements for missed coursework.  CC and SEAS students can reach their Advising Dean in the Center for Student Advising at 212-854-6378.  GS students can reach their Advising Dean in the Dean of Students Office at 212-854-2881.

Below are tips for preventing the flu:

1.      Take the seasonal influenza vaccine when it becomes available.

2.      Use good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleansers are also effective.

3.       Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or the elbow of your arm when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

4.      Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, since germs may spread that way.

5.      Avoid close contact with others who are ill. Avoid holding, hugging or kissing anyone who has a cold or the flu.

6.      If you become sick, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

For more influenza prevention tips, please visit:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/studentservices/preparedness.

We wish you a safe and healthy school year.

Sincerely,

Kevin G. Shollenberger

Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Student Life

Scott Halvorson

Interim Dean of Students

School of General Studies, Columbia University

Samuel Seward, M.D.

Assistant Vice President, Health Services at Columbia

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12 Comments

  1. are

    they saying we shouldn't actually go to health services, just to call them, if we come down with the flu?

    • no.

      they're offering their phone number in case you're not sure of what the best course of action would be.

      dissing the columbia administration doesn't make you any "cooler", especially when you're just proving how retarded you are.

      • you

        harbor anger. anger weakens the immune system.

      • you

        go to columbia. You're smart enough to use a word other than retarded.

      • actually

        I was referring to this:

        "If you stay on campus, you should remain in your residence hall room, and Housing and Dining can help provide services while you recover. In either case, the CDC recommends that you remain in your residence for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever."

        and this

        "A nurse will be available to speak with you and provide advice on how to seek appropriate care, and also advise you when you are well enough to resume participation in normal academic and campus activities."

        I was NOT trying to diss the Columbia administration, nor was I trying to look cool by asking some "retarded" question. It just seemed to me like they were discouraging people from walking into health services if they have flu-like symptoms, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a health care provider on campus.

  2. stupid health services

    If students who can commute home do so, they'll infect everyone on the bus/train/plane/other transportation, not to mention their families.

  3. ...Or

    They mean that it's best to avoid living in close quarters like a dorm.

  4. OMA

    You are only afraid of Swine Flu because of it's Mexican Origin.

    This is part of a larger culture of minority oppression on this campus. I demand that a new room be created as a safe space for those wishing to discuss the intersection between identity politics and swine flu.

  5. Srudent Life

    Giving health advice? Please, they're as good as a death panel, without the benefit of gained efficiency.

  6. ...

    So, will we be excused from class if we come down with the flu and are advised to stay in our rooms?

  7. oh shit

    don't eat the hawaiian pizza

  8. maybe you're  

    overreacting? Could they not also be trying to keep Health Services from getting too crowded with people who aren't actually sick?

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