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Infected swine flu students can quarantine themselves

While UNF lays on its nature preserve, students are bustling around and the sun shines in happy cycles, the campus is secretly being transformed into Michael Creighton’s 1971 set of “The Andromeda Strain.”

Perhaps not as intense as the quarantine situation in the film, UNF’s figurative adaption,“The Andromeda Strain-Osprey Style” in no way involves disseminated intravascular coagulation, but in its place resides the H1N1 virus.

The H1N1 influenza virus has triggered UNF officials to advance their swine flu emergency protocol to the point of dedicating two, four-person dorm rooms in the Osprey Landing as swine flu isolation rooms, said UNF Housing Director Paul Reil.

If the rooms took effect

Intended for students who live on campus who are either infected with H1N1 or have roommates who are and would like to be isolated from them, these rooms are completely voluntary to stay in, and it’s up to the student how long he or she would like to be isolated.

There would be a required release form that would need to be signed in order for students to stay in one of these rooms, according to the Office of Medical Services.

“Although these rooms haven’t been utilized yet, Health Services knows about the spaces and will refer students who live on campus to these rooms as an option for those who are unable to go home for some rest and relaxation,” Reil said.

For those who are suffering from the virus and decide to lay low in one of the isolation rooms, a nurse would hypothetically frequent the premises and check on the students, and there would be officials to deliver meals to the ill and assist students in any other way possible, Reil said.

“I hate to use the words ‘isolation rooms,’ and I highly doubt these rooms will ever go into effect; this is just a preventative measure really,” Director of Health Administration Doreen Perez said.

Preventing use of the rooms

So far, the confirmed cases of H1N1 on UNF soil have resulted in relatively seamless recoveries, according to the Office of Medical Services.

“I’m very satisfied with how on top of things our state-system institution is [when] handling things. We are extremely well-prepared as far as the information we’re getting out to students as well as our tactics,” Perez said.

While UNF had a pre-existing emergency plan for H1N1 threats, officials have decided to modify the plan with some re-fittings to ensure the spreading of the virus doesn’t get too out of hand on a campus of more than 16,000.

UNF’s best bet is to use prevention tactics such as giving lectures on cough etiquette and mask-wearing, which the Office of Medical Services has started to do with sororities and those in many other offices such as the English language department. Eventually officials would like to target all students and faculty, Perez said.

“Many other state universities in Florida have implemented a series of rooms dedicated to victims of swine flu and those seeking to get away from their infected roomies; Stetson University has squared-off an entire group of rooms for this purpose,” Perez said.

Swine flu attendance policy

Many students can probably recall their professors in the first week of classes mentioning the new measures regarding absences to be taken in regards to the students with swine flu.

The finessed swine flu action plan involves not requiring students who think they have contracted H1N1 to cough up a doctor’s note in the case of an absence, allowing students to make up any missed work, and of course, discouraging students from attending lecture when feeling under the weather.

“UNF has set up an H1N1 hot line through the Student Health Center at 877-352-3581 for students on campus so that they can have all their questions answered by a nurse dedicated to the effort,” Reil said.

An H1N1 vaccine is expected to be available later this fall starting in mid to late October, and UNF’s Student Health Center will be working closely with public health officials to provide vaccination, to eligible students, Perez said.

If students visit UNF’s website, http://www.unf.edu/studentaffairs/H1N1/index.html, it offers a wealth of information in regards to H1N1, including what measures students should take as an ill or healthy student as well as important information for parents of students.

The normal flu vaccine will be available to students starting next week, something Perez strongly recommends students look into.

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