Thursday, June 5, 2014

Are You Ready for Legionnaires' Disease?

Okay!  Here Smith goes again!  Probably writing about the next so-called Flu Pandemic!

NO!  I'm still worried about the NEXT world wide flu pandemic, but today I'm stirring up concern about a disease that's here and now and beginning to give plaintiff's lawyers hope for a very profitable next few years.

If you are in the healthcare industry -- hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities or even operate a spa or a fitness center -- you need to pay attention to the steady spread of Legionnaires' disease.

Also if you own or lease space in a shopping center with one or more air conditioner cooling towers on the roof, you should be paying attention and have them tested for contaminated cooling water.

Alabama alone has confirmed 41 cases of the deadly pneumonia type  disease from 2013, with 15 cases at a nursing home in Florence, AL, including one death and already this year another 18 confirmed cases and 2 deaths.

Alabama Department of Public Health Dr. Mary G. McIntyre says there were 3,000 cases reported to the U.S. Center for Disease Control in 2013, but she says a more realistic "estimate" of people hospitalized by the bacteria could be as high as 18,000.

Cases of Legionnaire's disease are most common in hospitals and nursing homes housing very ill and elderly patients. In November 2012 the Veterans Hospital in Pittsburgh reported six deaths and at least 22 infected veterans.

The Dartmouth, MA Police Station has been locked down for weeks after Legionella bacteria was detected in the building's hot-water heating system. At least one officer was infected before the
building was temporarily abandoned.

The first identified cases of Legionnaires' disease came during the 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia.  182 Legionnaires got sick and 29 died and today most people hear the term "Legionnaires' Disease" and think that was something that happened  38-years ago.

There are almost weekly reports of scattered cases across the U.S. and it's popping up in Europe, too. In 2012 four people died and 45 others required hospital care in Edinburg, Scotland.

So, now we get to the point -- why you should care, beyond for your own and your families' health.

In Edinburgh, Scotland the law firm of Irwin Mitchell represents 35 families who are seeking financial reimbursement and punitive damages. And, in Tampa, FL the Fernandez Law Firm is pursuing personal injury lawsuits on behalf of two elderly residents of the Meadows at Country Wood Retirement Community.

They were sickened by the bacteria that grew in warm, stagnant water in a decorative fountain near their retirement home. A third resident died and his family has its own wrongful-death lawsuit.

This is one of those things ICM calls a "smoldering crisis."  It is preventable.  You can anticipate it and head it off, all for a very nominal cost and with almost no disruption in your day-to-day operations.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crisis Communication Certification Training Registration Time

The next Institute for Crisis Management's two-day and three-day Crisis Communication Certification Course is coming up July 22-23 & 24 and before it fills up, click here to register and guarantee your place in the class.

The two-day crisis Certification Course is a thorough and intense examination of all the kinds of things that can go wrong in any organization, whether a multi-national corporation, a mom and pop business, higher ed, healthcare, a retail chain or a community not-for-profit. The workshop begins with a look inside the sudden, smoldering, bizarre and perceptual crises that can strike anywhere at any time.

Then the focus turns to the kind of planning that is needed to prepare any organization to prevent or minimize the damage from any of those potential crisis threats.  That includes how to identify the most likely vulnerabilities and how to select and train the right people for your crisis team.

Real life crisis case studies from the experiences of ICM consultants help drive home the importance of planning, preparing and training.

The second day ends with a two-and-a-half hour table top exercise taken from the real world of ICM clients.

The third, optional day, is devoted to media/spokesperson training.  Whether you have experience as the chief spokesperson for your company/organization or not, the third day will help you polish your skills and perhaps more significantly will give you tools and techniques to use to prepare the occasional spokesperson on your team.

That third day includes three on-camera experiences beginning with a "base-line" interview to start the day, followed by a mock news conference at mid-day and then the day ends with a sit-down, knee-to-knee, no holds barred, one-on-one interview to test what you have learned.

If July doesn't fit your schedule, the next ICM Crisis Communication Certification Course still has openings for Sept. 9-10 & 11, 2014.

Friday, April 18, 2014

BP Crisis Team Member Accused Of Profiting From 2010 Spill

When is the last time you heard about a member of a crisis team working on a major (or minor) corporate crisis that turned that crisis response into a personal million dollar windfall?

A former BP crisis team leader is facing federal insider trading charges for using confidential information about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.  He stands accused of taking advantage of the oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and polluted the ocean and coast of the Southeast United States to unload his $1-million portfolio of BP stock.

Keith Seilhan was responsible for coordinating BP's containment and clean-up response.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Seilhan of using insider crisis team information to "avoid losses and reap unjust profits" as BP securities dropped nearly 48-percent in the wake of the disaster.

In addition to the 11 deaths, the Gulf of Mexico was polluted with 84 days of uncontrolled spillage that dumped an estimated 200-million gallons of crude oil.  

Seilhan's attorney, Mary McNamara told USA Today reporter Kevin McCoy, her client wants to avoid further distraction and protracted litigation. And then she added, he's "widely respected for his work helping to lead the clean-up and containment efforts."

Was she talking about "the clean-up" of the spilled crude oil, or his alleged "cleaning up" financially?

In the days immediately after the explosion and uncontrolled flow of oil, the company publicly reported they were losing about 5,000 barrels of oil per day, but the SEC says Seilhan learned from his role on the crisis team that the rate of loss was between 64,000 to 110,000 barrels a day. He is accused of selling 87,512 shares of BP Stock and three BP stock-option grants.