Coastal Empire flu patients flocking to emergency rooms - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Flu patients flocking to area emergency rooms


Dr. John Rowlett, director of pediatric medicine for St. Joseph's/Candler said they've seen a dramatic increase of patients in their emergency rooms in the last three weeks. Many of them are complaining of flu like symptoms, some are testing positive for the virus and a few are even being admitted into the hospital.

Rowlett said many patients he's seen said they had the flu vaccine.

Two streets away, Memorial Medical Center Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Jay Goldstein says they're seeing more patients too. The hospital is also trying to protect themselves and their patients. Memorial is now urging all its healthcare staff to get the flu vaccine as well.

"They are trying to implement that and if you select out of not getting a flu shot, then you have to sign a piece of paper saying no," Goldstein explained. "It's actually trying to be mandated that all healthcare workers do get vaccinations. I don't think we're there yet, but there is a trend to get that done."

Rowlett said the same proposal is being made at the St. Joseph's/Candler hospital system too.

"You'll see some of our staff who can't take the vaccine for whatever reason wearing masks," he explained. "Other people are simply being told they can't work during the flu epidemic. It's for the protection of the patient and also for the protection of our staff."

Both healthcare systems have also started new visitation rules during the flu season. Here are the new regulations for people visiting patients at either St. Joseph's or Candler Hospitals:

  • Those under the age of 18 cannot visit patients in The Children's Place pediatric department, the Special Care Nursery and the Telfair BirthPlace, unless they are the primary caretaker. Special arrangements can be made with the nurse for siblings to visit.
  • Only children seeking treatment should come to the hospitals.
  • Patients can only receive two visitors at a time.
  • If you feel sick or have flu-like symptoms, do not visit patients in the hospitals.

Flu-like symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle/joint/body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

At Memorial, only people over the age of 18 can visit the pediatric or neonatal areas. Younger siblings can visit for special occasions but it has to be pre-approved.

No more than two visitors per patient are allowed in a room, and absolutely no visitors with flu-like symptoms will be allowed in.

Memorial urges visitors to wash their hands and use sanitizer when entering a patients room.

Both hospital systems and the Coastal Health District still urge people to get their flu shots. Officials say even if you get the virus, the virus will minimize your symptoms and how long you may feel sick.

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