Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

January 7, 2013

Hospital takes precautions for flu victims

EFFINGHAM — A recent flu outbreak has St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital taking a proactive approach against the disease.

"We are seeing primarily Influenza A," said Kim Howell, infection control coordinator at the hospital. "We have only seen one positive Influenza B test."

A flu shot should prevent the patient from contracting these two strains, she said.

The onset of flu season has arrived early this winter, with approximately 170 people testing positive for influenza since the beginning of December, Howell said. That's a bit up from the average year.

"We usually don't see this until late January or February, depending on the year," said Howell.

The flu has caused an increase in visits to the emergency room for influenza-like illnesses, but only a few people have been admitted to the hospital as a result of the disease.

Most influenza testing has been for outpatient individuals.

"Most (people) coming in have complications of influenza" such as bronchitis and pneumonia, said Howell.

The hospital isn't near capacity at this time, but planning is underway if the illness continues to fill its beds with sick patients.

"We do look ahead," said Howell. "There's always some preplanning, in case we reach that point. The plan is being developed in case we move into an overflow situation; if all the beds in the nursing unit were full, then this plan would be instituted."

She didn't divulge the hospital's plan, but did suggest some guidelines for visitors who come to see other patients or hospital employees.

"We highly recommend visitors, if they are ill, not go to the hospital until they are well," said Howell. "We want to protect those at risk. Don't bring children under the age of 18. Pregnant women we ask not to visit."

She also encouraged healthy and ill alike to take care to wash their hands.

"It's very, very important," she said

Nicole Dominique can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at nicole.dominique@effinghamdailynews.com

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