HOSPITAL SAYS NO EPIDEMIC IN VALLEY AREA

by Christian Mower on January 10, 2013

CONWAY FIRE CHIEF STEVE SOLOMON SAYS LATELY HE HAS BEEN RESPONDING TO A LOT OF AMBULANCE CALLS WITH PATIENTS SHOWING FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS.

A REGISTERED NURSE WITH MEMORIAL HOSPITAL IN NORTH CONWAY SAYS THE HOSPITAL IS SEEING A HIGHER THAN AVERAGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WITH FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS, BUT THE VALLEY AREA IS NOT EXPERIENCING AN EPIDEMIC – MEANING THE DISEASE IS NOT SPREADING RAPIDLY AND THE NUMBERS ARE NOT SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN WHAT IS NORMALLY SEEN THIS TIME OF YEAR.

ANDREA MURPHY – THE INFECTION CONTROL COORDINATOR AT MEMORIAL – SAYS THE SITUATION IN THE VALLEY IS NOTHING ON THE MAGNITUDE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING IN BOSTON, WHERE A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY HAS BEEN DECLARED.

MURPHY SAYS THERE IS AN INCREASED NUMBER OF PATIENTS COMING IN TO THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT AND WALK-IN WITH INFLUENZA-LIKE ILLNESS. MOST OF THE PATIENTS DO NOT REQUIRE ADMISSION TO THE HOSPITAL – AND MOST ARE BEING SENT HOME WITH ANTI-VIRAL MEDICATION AND ORDERS TO GET REST AND DRINK WATER.

MURPHY SAYS SOME OF THE STAFF AT MEMORIAL HAVE FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS AS WELL. THE HOSPITAL HAS A MANDATORY VACCINATION PROGRAM FOR ITS WORKERS – THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO TAKE A FLU SHOT OR ARE UNABLE TO – ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR A MASK WHEN THEY ARE NEAR A PATIENT.

MURPHY SAYS THE HOSPITAL’S BEDS ARE FILLED WITH PATIENTS WHO HAVE NORMAL WINTER AILMENTS, NOT ALL OF THEM FLU-RELATED. SHE SAYS SHE IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE INFLUX OF PEOPLE INTO THE VALLEY FROM HARD HIT AREAS AS THE VALLEY USUALLY EXPERIENCES THE TAIL END OF A RIPPLE EFFECT.

MURPHY SAYS EVEN IF YOU GET THE FLU VACCINE, YOU CAN STILL COME DOWN WITH THE FLU, BUT YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE SICK FOR A MUCH SHORTER AMOUNT OF TIME, WITH LESS SERIOUS SYMPTOMS.

AND YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU GET THE FLU – THOSE MOST VULNERABLE TO THE ILLNESS INCLUDE THE VERY YOUNG, THE ELDERLY AND ANYONE WHO HAS IMMUNE SYSTEM PROBLEMS. IF YOU DO GET THE FLU, MURPHY SAYS YOU SHOULD STAY HOME FROM WORK OR SCHOOL AND ONLY RETURN TWO DAYS AFTER ANY FEVER HAS GONE.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS YOU CAN TAKE: WASH YOUR HANDS, GET YOUR FLU SHOT, DON’T TOUCH YOUR EYES, NOSE OR MOUTH AND STAY HYDRATED. MURPHY SAYS THOSE ARE THE BASICS.

MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT www.flu.gov AND AT THE HOSPITAL’S WEBSITE AT www.memorialhospitalnh.org – OR CALL MEMORIAL AT (603) 356-5461.

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