Hospitals pose a double risk of flu season and coronovirus


In recent months the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in South Bay of San Diego is near coronovirus cases. Located 11 miles from the Mexican border and serving a predominantly Latino population, the hospital has seen a high number of infected patients.

But now doctors and nurses at the 343-bed hospital said they are preparing even more this fall when the upcoming flu season amid the coronovirus epidemic poses a loosening double threat that severely stresses the health system Can be put

“Flu season can be very difficult indeed,” said Leslie Gomez, nurse of the Emergency Department at Sharp Chula Vista. “And COVID-19 has been devastating, so I’m worried that these two forces will cause a very difficult fall and winter.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is significantly lower than coronovirus, but it is so widespread that the CDC says influenza resulted in 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitals, and between 12,000 Johns. According to a Hopkins University calculation, 61,000 deaths have been occurring annually in the US since 2010, with more than 32,500 Americans currently hospitalized with coronoids, the COVID tracking project says and more than 190,000 dead. went.

The potential potential threat at thousands of additional hospitals has already made some medical facilities tougher, similar to COVID-19, such as Sharp Chula Vista, washing hands to get ready on time.

“We’re on our way to get ready,” Gomez said. “We’re all a little nervous, but I think we’ve got it. I think we can do this. ”

In a briefing with reporters on Thursday, the director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Infectious Diseases, Dr. “We can’t really complain about this,” Jean Margezzo urged, stressing the possibility of disaster.

“We’re still at what we think of as a razor edge in relation to Kovid,” Marazzo said, “The challenge we have right now is that we’re entering the traditional flu season and the flu. The season is, as a whole, somewhat unpredictable. ”

“So the big concern is that we can see what could be a perfect storm of accelerated COVID-19 activity as people gather more in particular, as they get tired of social disturbances and hand hygiene wearing masks. Occur and as they are exposed. To seasonal influenza, “Marazzo said.

Los Angeles Health Services consultant Dr. According to Atul Nakhasi, a particular fear is that since both COVID-19 patients and flu patients who are hospitalized may require breathing tubes and ventilators, hospitals may face pressure on medical supplies is.

“I am a frontline doctor who works on flu season and I can tell you that during flu season there are many times ICU beds are taken, hospital beds, ventilators are taken. We need to be prepared for the level of stress on the health system that we have not seen, ”said Nakhasi, a primary care physician and policy consultant at the Los Angeles organization, which is the nation’s second-largest health system.

In 2018, the flu season in Alabama became so bad that the local government declared a state of emergency. Dr. Bernard Camins, Professor of Medicine at the Icon School of Medicine of Mount Sinai and Medical Director of Infection Prevention for Mount Sinai Health System, was a front-line worker at the University of Alabama at the time.

“That year, we had to cancel elective surgery to make more room for flu patients,” Camins told ABC News. “We ran out of ICU beds and we could not have surgery because there were no recovery rooms, the emergency room was very crowded. Now with COVID, hospitals may have to cancel surgery again if there is a second wave due to flu season. ”

To be ready, Gomez said Sharp is considering installing disaster tents in the Chula Vista parking, which has been used during hard-hit flu seasons in the past and emergency to allow isolation between patients The chamber has been expanded. More employees have also been hired to increase the number of screeners at the entrance to catch someone with high temperatures or other symptoms.

Medical Director of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology at Sharp Chula Vista and Dr., Chairman of the System Hospital Infection Prevention Committee for Sharp Healthcare. HA Shao said he anticipated that there would be more pressure on how the hospital would use its medical supplies and protective equipment. .

To rapidly diagnose and manage emergency room flow, Shao told ABC News that Sharp Healthcare is hoping to introduce on-site molecular testing tools for rapid diagnosis of both influenza and COVID-19 Is, for COVID-19 as the most tested currently rather than just tested. The test device, awaiting FDA approval, will perform 15 tests per hour and will take approximately 20 minutes to provide results.

The test instrument, developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, is intended to allow healthcare providers to differentiate between patients showing the same set of respiratory symptoms from the same sample.

“These are new tools and weapons that we didn’t have last year,” Dr. Shao said. “If there is a large amount of patients in our ER, then we will be able to tell if a patient has flu or COVID-19 in 20 minutes. This is going to help ER physicians tremendously. ”

A spokeswoman for Loma Linda University Health in California said it was planning to continue using triage tents in parking lots and re-enforce visitor restrictions to limit the number of people in the medical center.

“We’re actually going to maintain more stringent visitor restrictions, as we go into flu season and continue to battle COVID,” said the spokesperson, Briana Pastorino.

SSM Health in Missouri is recruiting more staff for its eight hospitals across the state and purchasing protective equipment to prepare for flu season.

SSM Health’s Chief Community Health Officer and Incident Commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. “We have no idea what the additional burden of COVID is going to be,” said Garza. “We are emphasizing on staff and supplies so that we can be ready.”

But the best way to avoid congestion in hospitals, Nakhasi said, is to ensure many people get their flu shots this year. The CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to make additional flu vaccines available this season and recommends getting the vaccine before the end of October.

“This is the most important thing because if we can reduce the number of flu, it can reduce a manageable number, giving hospitals a chance to fight this fall and winter,” Nakhasi said. said.

What to know about Coronavirus:

  • How it got started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Monitoring the spread in the US and worldwide: Coronavirus map
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