Local medical community on alertThe full range of organizations involved in medical care in Goodhue County stands ready to deal with any potential cases of H1N1 influenza, also known as the swine flu.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
The full range of organizations involved in medical care in Goodhue County stands ready to deal with any potential cases of H1N1 influenza, also known as the swine flu.
On Tuesday, before Minnesota's first suspected case of the flu was identified in the Cold Spring area, those plans were reviewed at a regular meeting of health care providers, according to Jane Gisslen, emergency/urgent care services manager at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center.
Participants included everyone from the county's nursing homes and ambulance services to public health officials, community hospital representatives, home health personnel and Emergency Management personnel, she said. They reviewed the existing plans for dealing with a pandemic.
"We know the flu can become a pandemic. It can become a killer, but that hasn't happened yet," said Dr. Greg Kays, emergency/urgent care services medical director. "There is cause for concern. There is not cause for alarm."
In addition, Jill Kolsky, director of employee health and wellness for Fairview Red Wing, issued a statement assuring the public that "The medical community continues to develop processes and proceduresfor handling potential patients with the swine flu. …
"Fairview has developed a screening and testing process or suspected cases of H1N1 influenza based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health," Kolsky said.
"We are watching for suspicious cases in our hospital, clinics, and ER and are working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health to confirm or rule out cases. We've identified and readied appropriate processes, medications and other supplies to ensure we're able to care for and protect patients and staff in the event of a confirmed case or exposure."
At this time, areas with confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza are Mexico, San Diego, Calif., San Antonio, Texas, Kansas, Ohio and New York City. Additional cases have been confirmed in Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, and New Zealand.
State health officials defined "suspect cases" as follows:
• A person with an acute respiratory illness who had close contact with a confirmed or suspect case of H1N1 influenza while the person was ill, or
• A person with an acute respiratory illness who traveled to an area with confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza within seven days of illness onset.
Symptoms of acute respiratory illness include sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, fever, or feverishness.
Gisslen advised people to do "all those common-sense things your Mom taught you":
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
• Stay home from work when you are sick
"Given the widespread routine influenzas in the Red Wing area, we are receiving many calls from concerned patients," Kolsky said. She encouraged people who have questions to contact their primary care providers or the general line, (651) 267-5000 to be directed to a nurse triage line.