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Flu still lingering; hospital ER has record month

The flu season isn’t over yet, and it probably hasn’t even hit its peak.

That’s what officials from the Centers for Disease Control said in their weekly flu update on Friday, when it was reported that the flu is widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico, with the highest cumulative rate of hospitalizations since 2010.

“We have not hit our peak yet, unfortunately,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said. “Really, the bottom line is, there is still likely many more weeks to go.”

In Andalusia, health care providers continue to report high rates of flu. January was among the busiest months for Andalusia Health’s emergency department and walk-in clinic, CEO John Yanes said.

“In January 2018, Andalusia Health experienced 2,060 emergency room visits which is a record,” Yanes said. “Additionally, the Andalusia Health Walk-In Clinic also set a record in January with 901 visits. The higher volume is attributed to flu related symptoms.”

Of those ER visits, 318, or 14.95 percent, were flu-related. In the walk-in clinic, 78 visits were flu-related, and 16 tested positive for flu.

Yanes said the hospital did 551 flu tests for patients who presented at the ER. About a third of those were positive. 137 were positive for Type A flu, and 26 were positive for Type B flu.

Hayden Nall, community educator for Main Street Family Urgent Care in Andalusia, said weekly patient visits for flu continue to trend upward. The clinic saw 277 case of flu in January, with the highest numbers of flu patients, 88, this past week.

“We are testing every patient for the flu whether they are presenting symptoms or not so that we can try and catch it early, and cut down on the length of illness,” Nall said.

Yanes said the admissions and patient census in Janaury was higher than the previous year.

“Several admitted patients have diagnosed with the flu and there are also several patients with respiratory problems,” he said. “Another consideration is that some physicians in our community admit directly from their office and those patients are not likely to be treated in the emergency room. Some of these direct admits may also have a flu diagnosis.”

He said the Andalusia Health team has bone the extra mile to avoid going on diversion, a temporary designation used to alert EMS that the hospital is at capacity.