Hospitals take extra caution with flu
As soon as a patient with flu-like symptoms walks into the waiting room at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side, they're advised to put on a mask.
But once they're triaged, they don't have a choice, that mask has to go on. They also get a box of tissues and are put in a bed behind a curtain to stop the spread of the virus.
"Honestly, the most important thing for everyone to be aware of is the safety of others," Daniel Baker, associate medical director, at Lenox Hill said. "There's a wide range of patients in the ER, and wearing a mask is really important to the preventing of spreading the virus."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday, which has yet to be lifted, because of the flu epidemic. As of Jan. 5, more than 20,000 people in New York state experienced flu-like symptoms this season. That's up from the just 4,400 cases reported last year.
Hospitals throughout New York City are dealing with the increase of patients to emergency rooms who are showing flu-like symptoms. Because of thevolume of people coming in and out, doctors and hospital staffs are taxed with keeping the virus from spreading..
At Lenox Hill, even family members who are bedside and exhibiting a hint of flu-symptoms are asked to put on a mask. Lenox Hill has seen a 3% increase in January of patients with flu-like symptoms coming to the emergency room, Baker said.
In the Health and Hospitals Corporation's 11 city hospitals, emergency rooms have seen a 10 to 20% increase in visits. "Much but not all" of those visits can be attributed to influenza-like symptoms, according to a HHC statement.
Some of the HHC locations have set up additional walk-in clinics to handle the increase.. New York-Presbyterian has seen a "significant increase of patients with influenza visiting the ER and being admitted," according to spokeswoman Kathleen Robinson, but no exact numbers were available. Robinson said the hospital is discouraging people who show any signs of the flu to visit friends or relatives staying there and encouraging sick staff members to stay home..
Baker, of Lenox Hill, stressed again for New Yorkers to seek out the flu shot -- which were hard to come by over the weekend -- stating the vaccine is a "very, very good match for the strand strain? that's going around this year."
Both HHC and Baker urged New Yorkers to reach out to their primary care doctors before heading to the ER because of the high influx of patients..