A 60-year-old woman is the first patient with confirmed H1N1 influenza at Union Hospital. According to Carey Gardner, director of development and community relations, the woman was an inpatient two weeks ago and was admitted with flu-like symptoms and other medical complications. She has since been discharged from the hospital.
?While we have only the one confirmed case, there were 21 other patients treated at the hospital last week who tested positive for influenza A? Gardner said. ?The Centers for Disease Control says we should presume that 99 percent of influenza A cases are the H1N1 flu.?
Dr. Thomas Kelly, vice president for medical affairs, says patients with flu-like symptoms are being tested for influenza ?A? which takes only three days to get test results. ?If the test is positive, we?ll assume that it?s the H1N1 flu,? Kelly said. ?Only those patients admitted to the hospital will be tested for H1N1 specifically, but the test costs $400 and results take 10 to 14 days.?
?We?re following the CDC guidelines for flu testing and treatment,? Kelly said. ?The treatment of the patient will be the same regardless if it?s the H1N1 or not.?
Dr. Kelly says the patient with confirmed H1N1 was in an isolation room while in the hospital and staff wore protective clothing and equipment to avoid exposure.
?Since it takes two weeks to test a patient and confirm H1N1, for the safety of our other patients and our staff we?ll take similar precautions with any patient admitted with flu-like symptoms.?
Gardner says the hospital has raised the minimum visiting age guideline to age 18 and older. ?It only makes sense to ask younger people to not visit the hospital now that we have confirmed H1N1 in our community. Younger people are at greater risk of this flu and we want to limit their exposure and reduce the chance they might infect a hospital patient or staff member.?
Signs posted at the hospital?s public entrances state the visiting age guideline of 18 and older. Surgical masks are provided for any person entering the hospital with cold or flu-like symptoms. Hand sanitizer is also provided at the entrances and frequent hand washing is also encouraged.
October 2009 ###