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Hospitals handling flu so far

More cases than usual popping up already

POSTED: October 14, 2009 9:58 a.m.
According to Liberty Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Rene’ Harwell, already this season there has been a significant increase in patients who have come to the hospital with the flu.
Director of Infection Control and Employee Health Peggy McGee said this year they’ve had 95 positive cultures for the flu.
“Ninety-eight percent are flu A [seasonal varieties] positive. Seventy-eight percent of the flu A positives were for children less than the age of 12. We have tested three individuals for H1N1 with two positives, both in children,” McGee said. “We have seen a huge increase in testing this year due to H1N1. If we continue at this rate, numbers are expected to double.”
Falling in line with most national trends, Harwell said the majority of the people coming in are young.
“Children under the age of 10 appear to be affected the most,” she said.
Officials with Winn Army Community Hospital also have seen a general increase in the number of flu patients this season. According to hospital data, patients in one of every three acute appointments complain of flu-like symptoms. However, foot traffic in the past week dipped slightly.
“We’re doing fine and seeing patients in a timely manner and actually experiencing a slight decline,” said Maj. Shannon Ellis, preventive medicine chief at Winn.
Ellis also said Fort Stewart will be combating the flu by hosting a drive-through flu vaccination clinicat the hospital overflow parking lot Oct 27-30.
“We’re anticipating 1,500 patients a day,” she said adding that the clinic is open to military members, military beneficiaries, as well as Department of Defense civilians. DoD contractors are only eligible for H1N1 vaccines. All vaccines are free.
Deidre Howell, with Liberty County Department of Health said she too has received a lot response for flu vaccines this year, but oddly just for the seasonal flu.
“We ran out of seasonal flu vaccines,” Howell said, who is expecting their supplies to be replenished in November.
As for the H1N1 vaccines, which the department of health got 400 nasal spray doses earlier in the month, residents don’t seem to be as interested.
“We’ve only given five,” Howell said on Tuesday of the vaccinations they received to mainly serve the most at-risk patients (children between the ages of 2 and 4).
Parents seeking to take advantage of the plentiful H1N1 vaccination supply should make an appointment with the Liberty County Department of Health by calling 876-2173.
Those who are interested in getting seasonal flu shots can also go to the Kroger Pharmacy which is providing seasonal, but not H1N1, flu shots for $25.
Clinical Coordinator and pharmacist for Kroger, Liza Chapman, said Kroger has been giving flu shots since 2002 but this year is definitely the busiest. She said while right now they only have the seasonal flu shots, they’re working on getting H1N1 as well.
“We’re working with state health departments but we still don’t know when we’re going to get them [H1N1 vaccines],” Chapman said.
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