Hospitals Prepare For Possible Pandemic

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Health care workers across the city want to make it clear that they are not in panic mode, but they are getting prepared in case of a possible pandemic.

At Via Christi Saint Francis Regional Medical Center, doctors say they are organized and ready to go if the H1N1 flu hits in the Wichita area.

"I think we are better prepared than we've ever been to handle these things," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Hewitt Goodpasture.

Goodpasture says they've had several meetings. Just Thursday morning he met with emergency room doctors to go over proper protocol.

"When we get into situation where there could be a crisis we have to organize in a different way," said Goodpasture.

That means the hospital is stockpiling extra antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu. Emergency room doctors and nurses are on heightened alert and are looking out for flu symptoms in patients. They are more apt to take cultures from suspect patients and send them off for testing. They are also making sure they are taking their own precautions.

If a H1N1 flu case does crop up here at the hospital, the patient would be put in a private room and health care workers would wear protective gear such as masks to treat them.

What the hospital worries about the most right now, though, is people flooding the emergency room with coughs and colds fearing they have the flu.

Dr. Goodpasture says only people with very high fevers and severe body aches should come in for testing. He says it's important for people to keep this pandemic fear in perspective.

"We've got to approach it with the discipline and confidence that we got through it before and we know how to deal with it," said Goodpasture.

To learn more about the H1N1 flu on, click here.

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