Hope College and its health center have been praised by the Michigan Department of Community Health for the manner by which it managed a potentially serious situation during the recent H1N1 virus emergency.

Hope participates in the Michigan component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Sentinel Surveillance Program.

Reports from Hope health officials of a spike in influenza among its campus community during late April played an integral role in the early detection of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus in Michigan, according to Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

"Your involvement and efforts have contributed greatly to the public health of Michigan's citizens," said Olszewski.

The voluntary Sentinel Surveillance Program in Michigan is comprised of 83 organizations, including 12 colleges and universities, who report any irregular patterns or changes in the wellness of the people they serve. Reports from the Hope College health center to the Ottawa County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Community Health brought attention to a potential health emergency.

"The health and wellness of our campus community -- students, faculty and staff -- are of the utmost importance to us," said Dr. Richard Frost, vice president for student development and dean of students. "We are blessed to have a dedicated college health center staff and the Holland community is fortunate to have the resources of the Ottawa County Health Department who so capably partner with us during times such as this."