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AHS, hospital will partner in the event of a pandemic

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AYER — The School Committee has signed a memorandum of agreement with Nashoba Valley Medical Center to provide overflow space if a pandemic strikes.

Pandemic is the term for a sweeping epidemic in which large numbers of people across the nation or even the globe contract a “universal” communicable disease, such as a virulent strain of flu virus, in a relatively short period. Though the nation hasn’t faced a pandemic in this century, federal and state laws mandate that community health-care facilities have action plans in place, like emergency-management plans for natural disasters.

Besides treating the illness itself, finding a cure and developing vaccines to prevent it, problems a pandemic would pose in urban, suburban and rural areas differ somewhat.

However, a common challenge envisioned by public-health officials and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., is the strain on medical facilities in a given area when large numbers of sick people must be housed and cared for at the same time.

That’s why hospitals such as Nashoba Valley Medical Center reach out to area schools to line up extra space. When interim Superintendent of Schools George Frost presented the hospital’s proposal at the May 7 meeting, the committee voted unanimously to accept it.