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Flu cases keep area hospitals busy

March 06, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

The flu season in the Tri-State area is still keeping area hospitals busy.

Frederick Memorial Hospital canceled elective surgeries that required overnight stays on Thursday, Friday and on two days the previous week, said Ken Coffey, hospital spokesman.

The number of patients being admitted or treated for flu-like symptoms is not slowing down in Frederick County, Md., Coffey said.

Almost all of the hospital's 228 beds have been full during the last two weeks, he said.

"We've got a lot of people working real hard," Coffey said. Many employees are working double shifts or remaining on-call during their off hours, he said.

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The flu has eased up slightly in Washington County, but Washington County Hospital is still reviewing its elective surgery schedule daily and rerouting trauma calls coming in via helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, said spokeswoman Cassandra Latimer.

The hospital is still accepting trauma calls coming in via ambulance, she said.

Many of the hospital's elective surgery cases have been postponed or rerouted to the Robinwood Surgery Center near Hagerstown during the last three weeks, Latimer said.

On Friday, 226 of the hospital's 343 beds were full, Latimer said. With a heavy caseload and some employees out sick, several employees are working extra shifts.

Five cases of Type A influenza have been confirmed in Washington County with many reports of cases with flu-like symptoms, said Dr. Robert Parker, county health officer.

Maugansville Elementary School had more than 10 percent of its students out sick on Monday and Tuesday, Parker said.

Chambersburg Hospital in Chambersburg, Pa., has been so busy that it opened some rooms that aren't normally available for patients, said Sheran White, spokeswoman for Summit Health, which runs both Chambersburg Hospital and Waynesboro Hospital in Waynesboro, Pa.

Two elective surgeries were canceled Feb. 12 at Chambersburg Hospital, but none since, White said.

Waynesboro Hospital also has seen a lot of patients with respiratory and intestinal flu-like symptoms, White said.

The pace of flu-like cases at City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., has slowed a bit, but the 260-bed hospital is still experiencing high occupancy, including patients with flu-like symptoms and respiratory infections, said spokeswoman Laura Riggs.

Jefferson Memorial Hospital has been operating with its approximately 60 available beds full for the past several weeks, said spokeswoman Teresa McCabe. While the hospital is licensed for 114 beds, it operates with about 60 beds, she said.

The emergency room, urgent care facility in Charles Town, W.Va., and many primary care physician offices also have been busy with patients with flu-like symptoms, McCabe said.

"It's starting to slow down a little bit," she said.

In Jefferson County, W.Va., school attendance dropped about 2 percent, with the heaviest hits coming during the last two weeks, said spokeswoman Liz Thompson.

"We seem to be coming out of it," Thompson said.

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