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Ref: Pandemic Toolkit website to provide emergency preparedness info for businesses

PR Newswire

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CEO Addresses Tennessee Business Leaders About Developing Pandemic and Business Continuity Plans




MEMPHIS, Tenn., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- George Abercrombie, president
and chief executive officer, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., told more than 100
Tennessee business leaders today at The Economic Club of Memphis that the
threat of a pandemic flu presents businesses with challenges unlike those
anticipated with traditional emergency preparedness plans.
"While businesses are all too familiar with preparing for potential
disasters such as floods or tornadoes," according to Abercrombie, "local
businesses also need to look at the special challenges posed by the
potential of a public health crisis caused by a global influenza pandemic."
Abercrombie, who shared details of Roche's own plans to safeguard the
health of its employees and business infrastructure during a pandemic flu
outbreak, says that Tennessee's key industry sectors, including
transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, agriculture, food service and
hospitality would be among the hardest hit.
In March, Trust for America's Health released a report (funded by The
Pew Charitable Trusts as part of the U.S. Pandemic Preparedness Initiative)
estimating that Tennessee could lose approximately $14 billion in income as
a severe pandemic flu outbreak.
"Influenza pandemics are not static events like a hurricane or tornado,
nor are they confined to a specific area. Pandemics come in multiple waves,
each one affecting a given area from four to twelve weeks. During the first
wave, officials expect 30 percent of people will become ill. Here in
Memphis, that's 300,000 residents who will get very sick in a very short
period of time, inundating emergency rooms already strained to near
capacity[0]."
According to Abercrombie, experts believe that many businesses and
organizations would have difficulty maintaining operations as a result of
an increased level of absenteeism due to illness, employees caring for the
sick and social-distancing policies. In Tennessee alone, there is the
potential for approximately 40 percent of employees to be absent from their
jobs, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, and this would
result in losses of roughly $5.7 billion dollars due to absenteeism and
death.
Based on his experience in working with the federal government the past
several years on pandemic preparedness, Abercrombie reminded the audience
that the government has asked private businesses to share in the
responsibility of planning. While the federal government has plans to help
slow the spread of the virus among critical populations, such as healthcare
workers and emergency personnel, it is up to local communities and
businesses to ensure that residents and employees stay healthy and that
businesses and local economies remain up and running.
More information on how businesses can organize their own pandemic
plans is available online at http://www.pandemictoolkit.com. For more information
about the Trust for America's Health, visit
http://healthyamericans.org/reports/flurecession/releases/TN.pdf.
About Roche
Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. (Roche), based in Nutley, N.J., is the U.S.
pharmaceuticals headquarters of the Roche Group, one of the world's leading
research-oriented healthcare groups with core businesses in pharmaceuticals
and diagnostics. For more than 100 years in the U.S., Roche has been
committed to developing innovative products and services that address
prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, thus enhancing people's
health and quality of life. An employer of choice, in 2006, Roche was named
one of the Top 20 Employers (Science magazine), ranked the No. 1 Company to
Sell For (Selling Power), and one of AARP's Top Companies for Older
Workers, and in 2005, Roche was named one of Fortune magazine's Best
Companies to Work For in America. For additional information about the U.S.
pharmaceuticals business, visit our websites: http://www.rocheusa.com or
http://www.roche.us.
All trademarks used or mentioned in this release are protected by law.



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