Our Pandemic Preparations: Infection control
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Implementing a workplace infection control program:
- A robust infection control program for employees is an integral part of our business continuity strategy for a pandemic. Our program served us well during the H1N1 pandemic. Consistent with the recommendations of organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, Aetna's infection control program for a pandemic includes extensive employee education on hand-washing hygiene, and cough and sneezing etiquette, use of personal protective equipment and cleaning solutions to reduce exposure to or spread of germs, and social distancing. Health experts recommend social distancing as a component of reducing the spread of a pandemic. That can mean advising people to stay away from public gatherings or, in an office situation, maintaining three to six feet of distance between individuals. Aetna’s large work-at-home population is a major strength in this regard.
- For employees designated as critical on-site staff during a pandemic, protective masks are one part of the overall infection control program. To field test one of these measures, Aetna asked a selected group of customer service representatives to wear masks for a full work shift while taking calls from members and some executives on the pandemic steering committee. The test was designed to assess three factors: comfort; protection; and usability. Using feedback from our customer service representatives and other information gained in tests like this, we are prepared to implement employee protection programs for both effectiveness and practicality. During the H1N1 pandemic we did make the masks available at sites for use if needed.