Hospitals experiencing increase in flu cases

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

 Flu Prevention Tips

The American Red Cross has tips for helping slow the spread of influenza: 

  • Get a flu shot
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing 
  • Wash your hands often 

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WICHITA, Kan. -- An increase in flu cases has hospitals busy and doing everything they can to make sure they are able to take on patients suffering from severe influenza symptoms and related complications.

Via Christi Hospitals have treated 53 flu patients over the past few weeks and the number of cases may rise.

"It's not as bad as last year yet, but we may get to that point," said Maggie Hagan, an infectious disease specialist at Via Christi.

Hagan said Thursday the timing of the increase in cases -- two weeks after Christmas -- makes sense.

"If you might imagine, people are gathering together with their families and spending a lot of close, quality time together and, in that context, they may well share their viruses," Hagan said.

The flu outbreak is not just keeping physicians and nurses busy. The environmental services and safety teams at the hospitals are busy making sure everything is regularly cleaned and disinfected.

"We do this every day; all the time," said Carolyn Koehn, Via Christi's safety director. "We're making sure that we stay focused on keeping everything disinfected."

As another precaution, the hospital is asking anybody suffering from any kind of respiratory infection not to visit loved ones in the hospital for now.

"What we don't want to happen is we don't want to bring viruses into the hospital and infect our patients," Hagan said.

Other staff members are making sure the hospital is ready to take on anybody with severe flu symptoms.

"We're currently working on a daily basis to try to get the patients in and get them into a bed in a timely manner," said Karen Bally, Via Christi's infection control coordinator.

Bally said, though the flu is keeping hospital staff busy, they are not overwhelmed.

"We are not turning you away," she said. "If you're experiencing symptoms, we ask that you do show up in our emergency rooms. You will be seen."

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