Local hospitals deal with influx of flu patients

It’s all hands on deck as hospitals across the country are battling what’s being called the most severe flu season in recent years.

Those ugly viruses causing a congested cough and sore throat are back and local hospitals are feeling the side effects.

“We don’t want to have patients coughing on one another and getting each other sick, so we try to keep patients isolated as much as possible,” says Sparrow’s Regional Medical Director, Nabil Khoury.

Khoury says in the last few weeks the hospital has experienced an increase in patients with flu symptoms and complications from the flu in both the emergency room and outpatient areas.

A few weeks ago, he says almost 20% of the hospital’s population tested positive for the flu and employees are doing everything they can to protect themselves and visitors.

“Almost 90 patients at some point had screened positive for the flu. So it tells you kind of the impact of it on the hospital and it taxes a lot of our resources,” says Khoury.

Those resources he’s talking about.. are beds.

Khoury says the hospital plans for patient overflow but during times of need they turn to other options when beds aren’t available.

“Our next best approach is to keep masks on patients who are suspected of the flu and we do that if they’re in our waiting room potentially or traveling in other areas of the department or going for x-rays we’ll have them wear a mask,” says Khoury.

To avoid spreading the virus, Khoury says all staff members at the hospital receive the flu vaccine but the most important step the hospital takes, he says is hand washing.

“It’s something that we have to re-double our attention to because we don’t want to spread viruses or any other germs from patient to patient,” says Khoury.

Khoury asks that patients remain patient with them as the season continues.

“We want to be part of the solution and not the problem as our physician as well as our non-physician staff,” says Khoury.

In addition to Sparrow, McLaren Greater Lansing says they too are seeing an increase in influenza cases and are encouraging sick visitors to stay at home.

Henry Ford Allegiance in Jackson has also taken action imposing temporary visitor restrictions.