independent

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Wexford Hospital swine flu alert

Five being treated for the H1N1 virus

David Looby

Five patients are being treated at Wexford General Hospital for the H1N1 virus.

Hospital management confirmed the patients presented over recent days with flu-like symptoms, which upon examination transpired to be the virus, also known as swine flu, which is transmitted from human to human. When first identified in 2009 it turned into a pandemic and effected millions worldwide. Now the H1N1 circulates as an annual flu virus and the seasonal flu vaccine provides protection against it.

Consultant at the hospital’s emergency department, Dr Paul Kelly said the hospital was inundated with patients presenting with flu-like symptoms at the weekend and on Monday.

‘We are very busy but the patients have been very good and the wards have been coping very well. There is a backlog in emergency patients and we had eight patients on trolleys this morning,’ Dr Kelly said.

He said compared to other hospital, Wexford General has managed the surge in patients very well.

‘People are presenting with multiple medical problems and we got five H1N1 cases. It’s very virulent in younger people in their twenties up. We had an awful lot of patients in with flu-like symptoms, many who did not need to come to the emergency department. The people at risk are those with chronic airwave illnesses, diabetes, the elderly and pregnant patients. This flu has only started to peak now.’

He said patients suffering from the H1N1 virus can expect to be ill for a week.

Dr Kelly said unlike in other years the right strain of flu vaccination is available now, urging people to get it, especially those in risk categories.

Several hospital staff members have had to call in sick due to contracting the flu, but hospital management have handled the situation, Dr Kelly said. He called on people suffering from flu-like symptoms to see their G.P. and not attend the hospital A&E department where they would encounter lengthy waiting periods.

‘Rest, paracetamol and plenty of fluids are what are required for these symptoms. We had eight patients on trolleys today and they all got beds fairly quickly. The wards have been very good in taking in patients. We have a very good discharge lounge and medical assessment unit.’

Dr Kelly said most patients are looking after themselves much better, adding that Wexford G.P.’s have been fantastic over Christmas, working extra days and late into the evenings and nights to see patients. ‘As a result our numbers here have been pretty stable.

‘I was expecting a lot more patients last week but they didn’t arrive until the weekend and on Monday when we got a bit of a rush. We are much better prepared this year than before thanks to the GPs and the homecare teams so we’re coping relatively well.

‘Ten years ago we had 60 patients on trolleys one day and a ward set up in the old outpatients so we’ve come a long way. The nurses have been fantastic pushing patient flow and the management team have been superb in recognising and dealing with the problems.’

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