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Health Systems Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Seed Grant Profile


2009-2010 Program

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Optimizing Health Services Delivery During an Influenza Pandemic: A Focus on Children and Adolescents

A severe influenza pandemic is inevitable and imminent, and the recent novel H1N1 and H5N1 influenza outbreaks have shown that critical systems are not fully prepared for a pandemic. Efficient responses will be crucial for mitigating morbidity, mortality, and costs to society. Surge response to the pandemic must be provided in concert with ongoing essential health services. Management of the 2.5 million children and adolescents in the state of Georgia, who would be at risk of infection from a pandemic strain of influenza, present unique challenges to management and control of propagation. Their close contact in child care facilities, schools, and recreational areas combined with their lack of immunity, make them natural targets for prevention of transmission in the community. Determining where and how to provide health services to persons with novel influenza infections is crucial to an overall plan for response during a pandemic. Location of services has implications for transmission of infections and resources available to meet the need, yet little is known about how the health delivery network should be structured to balance these tradeoffs. We propose to build an agent-based spatial-temporal model with heterogeneous mixing incorporating age differences. Simulations of disease transmission will be integrated with models of different healthcare networks determined by new algorithms that account for disease dynamics and resource allocation, using health systems and interventions for children and adolescents in the state of Georgia as the pilot. Based on these models, we will make recommendations for the provision of optimal health services with respect to locations, personnel, proposed delivery systems, and estimations of the cost and benefit of each. Although the focus of our analyses will be on children and adolescents due to their instrumental role in propagation of infectious disease outbreaks, we will be able to apply our new models and methodologies integrating disease dynamics and optimization to make recommendations for the entire state of Georgia. The research cuts across multiple disciplines including epidemiology, medicine, public health, and optimization, and the timeliness and impact of these proposed investigations meet the focus of the HSI seed grant funds. The grant will provide an instrumental opportunity to initiate these studies and to provide preliminary data to submit competitive applications for extra-mural funding including DHS, NIH, NSF, and others.

Investigators: Julie Swann (GT, Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering), Pinar Keskinocak (GT, Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering), Andrea Shane (Emory University/Children's Healthcare of Atlanta)

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