Disaster planning: Potential effects of an influenza pandemic on community healthcare resources


  • Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, JD, MBe
  • Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH
  • Bryan C. Thibodeau, MD




pandemic, influenza, preparedness, policy, H5N1


The federal government states that local communities are primarily responsible for public health planning and implementation during a severe pandemic. Accordingly, an assessment of the current healthcare capabilities in these communities and planning for deficiencies is required. This article assesses the impact and healthcare capabilities of a specific model local community in a mid-Atlantic state. Two statistical models demonstrate the likely impact of both mild and severe pandemics on local healthcare resources. Both models reveal significant deficiencies that local communities may face. In the event of a severe 1918- type pandemic influenza or a mild influenza pandemic, many local community healthcare systems will likely have inadequate resources to respond to the crisis; such a healthcare emergency would likely overwhelm local community resources and current public health practices. Proper planning at the community level is critical for being truly prepared for such a public health emergency.

Author Biographies

Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, JD, MBe

Senior Consultant for Medical and Legal Policy, University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, Baltimore, Maryland.

Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH

Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Bryan C. Thibodeau, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.


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How to Cite

Mareiniss, MD, JD, MBe, D. P., J. M. Hirshon, MD, MPH, and B. C. Thibodeau, MD. “Disaster Planning: Potential Effects of an Influenza Pandemic on Community Healthcare Resources”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 4, no. 3, May 2009, pp. 163-71, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2009.0025.




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