Margaretville Hospital offers flu season advice; H1N1 vaccines available at Family Health Centers

Margaretville — With flu season underway, Margaret-ville Hospital has issued some guidelines for procedures to follow if an illness is suspected.
Nora Todd, RN, manager of the hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control Department, said there are varying levels of illness and that the public should follow established treatment guidelines.
The symptoms of influenza include: Fever (low 100 degrees to high 104 degrees) usually for three days, but possibly persisting for 4-8 days. Sometimes the fever will go away and return a day later.
Additional symptoms are: aching muscles, cough, headache, joint ache, eye pain, feeling very cold or having shaking chills, feeling very tired, sore throat or runny nose.
If a person is experiencing some of these symptoms they should stay home, drink fluids and take fever reducers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
There are a number of people who fall into high-risk categories: children younger than age five, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, persons with certain chronic medical or immunosuppressive conditions and persons younger than 19 who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy. Anyone in a high-risk category who exhibits flu symptoms is advised to visit their health care provider as soon as possible to receive antiviral therapy, if appropriate.
Persons with flu symptoms should contact their health care provider if they are unable to drink enough fluids, their urine becomes dark, they feel dizzy while standing, have fever for more than 3-5 days or if they feel better than develop a fever again,
Flu sufferers should immediately visit the Emergency Department if they experience shortness of breath or wheezing, cough up blood, have chest pain with breathing, have heart disease or congestive heart failure or if they become unable to work, sit up or function normally.
Emergency care should also be sought if children experience any of the following: fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish or gray skin color, not drinking enough fluids, severe or persistent vomiting, not waking up or interacting, being so irritable that they do not want to be held, or having flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and a worse cough.
Ms. Todd explained that Margaretville Hospital does not perform rapid testing for influenza due to the low reliability of the test results. The hospital does perform A/B flu testing to differentiate between flu strains so that proper treatment can be prescribed.
She said that testing for the H1N1 flu strain is done at the hospital on a case by case basis and is most likely performed if a patient is hospitalized.
Ms. Todd said that Margaretville Hospital has both the nasal and shot form of the H1N1 vaccine available and its physicians are offering it to their patients.
The hospital is anticipating scheduling a H1N1 flu shot clinic before the end of November, if adequate supplies are received from the Department of Health. Flu season generally extends into April, Ms. Todd pointed out.
For additional information, please contact the hospital at 845 586-2631.
Margaretville Hospital and Mountainside Residential Care Center are members of HealthAlliance. Both facilities are located on Route 28, Margaretville.