Yesterday we reached out to the families of all our delegates traveling with us on one of our fall World Leadership Forum programs in Washington, D.C.
The safety of all our delegates is our number-one priority. To that end, we are prepared to aggressively control the risk of the influenza virus impacting any of our delegates, and I’d like to share with you how we are achieving that goal.
Usually, we see a small number (generally 4-6) of students who arrive at our leadership forums with some form of virus. Each program consists of several hundred students, so it is a very small percentage that arrives at a program ill. People to People ensures these students receive prompt care by one of the many medical facilities in the D.C. area. They are also attended to by individual People to People associates assigned to monitor their conditions and personal needs as they recover. We have found that students who arrive ill on our programs almost always had symptoms at home prior to travel.
I experienced this firsthand on my first World Leadership Forum last fall when a young man experienced shallow breathing, fatigue, and other symptoms upon arrival at the program. He was immediately seen by a medical professional on site, and then he and I headed to the hospital via ambulance. The diagnosis was early-stage pneumonia, a condition he had developed several days prior to departing for our program.
I spent the next two nights sleeping in a chair in his room while the doctors cared for the student, as it is our policy to never leave a student alone in a medical facility. Fortunately, we caught the condition early and were able to immediately get this student the medical attention he so needed, and he was able to rejoin the rest of the delegation for the remainder of the program once we were assured he was no longer contagious and was fit to participate in the many activities planned.
I share this story with you to give you some insight into how we protect your student from exposure to viruses and other conditions that some students unknowingly bring onto our programs. With the media coverage surrounding swine flu and the potential for contracting influenza A as students come together, we thought you should know we are taking steps to ensure your child’s health and safety.
The question most often asked by parents during the enrollment process is always “How will People to People ensure the safety of my child?” The answer is that we are proactive with many programs, procedures, and safeguards in place to ensure the risk of any problem is reduced as much as possible. Our program this fall for our World Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., is just one example of our attention to detail in this matter.
Yesterday we sent an email to every family of delegates traveling to Washington, D.C., during the next three weeks. We will also contact the remaining delegations as we get closer to their departure dates. In these emails, we disclose our plans to prevent any student from contracting influenza A while on our program. This program is very similar to the successful steps we took to ensure no delegate traveled internationally this summer with the H1N1 virus.
The U.S. government no longer tests for swine flu or H1N1 due to the volume of cases already reported, the difficulty in tracking such a high volume, and the cost of the individual tests. Instead, a quick blood test can yield results within 30 minutes that will determine if a patient has influenza A. If this test is positive, it is assumed that the patient has the H1N1 virus.
In our email, we ask if anyone in the family has experienced any of the following symptoms:
- High fever above 100.4 degrees F
- Coughing or sneezing
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Chills and fatigue
- Diarrhea and vomiting
If their child shows the above symptoms the day prior to travel, we advise the family not to send their child on the program. Instead, we provide many options, one of which includes transferring the delegate to another fall 2009 or spring 2010 program without penalty.
We also advise the families that it is our intent to take the temperatures of each student using a nonintrusive scanner prior to acceptance into our programs. Those few who show significant symptoms will be immediately escorted to a medical professional for evaluation. If they test positive for influenza A, the student will be cared for away from the rest of the delegation and will rejoin the group 48 hours after symptoms have subsided.
We do not anticipate that many students will need to be escorted to a medical facility. Instead, we believe that being proactive and up-front with all families in advance will discourage those few with a sick child from sending them on the program, further ensuring the health and safety of the majority of students who arrive healthy and ready to participate in their life-changing experiences.
I share with you our safety measures not to scare you but to reassure you that our team here at People to People cares deeply about your child and will do all that we can to help them proceed with their great adventure.
With that, I wish you all safe travels and a healthy life.