GENTRY The 2009 H1N1 flu has become prevalent enough that Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital no longer tests everyone who might have the virus. The hospital is following the recommendations of testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Cindy Kugel, chief nursing officer. Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital does not release numbers regarding the number of people who have been tested for the flu or the number of those who’ve actually been confirmed with 2009 H1N1, commonly called swine flu. Reports of flu-like symptoms continue to increase at the hospital, Kugel said. A peak on this increase has yet to be reached. “Our assumption is that it is related to H1N1,” Kugel said. The first positive test of H1N1 was in early September, she said. The hospital saw a record number of patients in the emergency room over the past weekend. The number of patients who came to the ER was double the amount the hospital normally sees. Not all patients seen in the ER were experiencing flu-like symptoms. The hospital usually doesn’t see this many patients with flu symptoms until later in the winter, between late November and early April. “We haven’t hit the seasonal flu time period,” Kugel said. No H1N1 vaccines have been given to patients or medical staff yet because they have not arrived. Medical staff and patients have received the seasonal flu shot. The average length of stay for patients with the swine flu is two to four days, Kugel said. “Our resources have not been maxed to capacity, but we’ve been busy,” she said.
The hospital is licensed for 73 beds and currently has 45 patient beds.
The hospital recently released recommendations for visitors.
These recommendations will be in effect until further notice:
• No visitors under age 12.
• Patients can only have two visitors at a time.
• People should not visit if they have a fever, cough, sore throat or other respiratory symptom.
• Use tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of them immediately.
• Wash hands often to prevent spreading germs.
“I would encourage hand washing — frequent hand washing,” Kugel said.
She also recommends that anyone with flu-like symptoms stay home. They should remain home until they’ve been without a fever for 24 hours and not using medicine.
H1N1 symptoms include fever of more than 100 degrees, headache, body aches, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea, according to Arkansas Department of Health.
Anyone with questions can call the hospital, Kugel said.
“Were here for the community,” she said. “We want to keep them safe and well.”
The hospital has a flu pandemic plan in place and coordinates with other area hospitals, she said.
News, Pages 6 on 11/11/2009
Print Headline: Hospital has quit testing for H1N1