Influenza Updates

January 14, 2019

ATLANTIC – Officials at Cass County Health System report that while the flu season has begun in Cass County, numbers of confirmed cases are still low.

“We have begun our official flu protocol, which means that we care for patients in a slightly different manner,” said Danielle Staiert, Nurse Manager at Atlantic Medical Center. “Our goal is to care for influenza patients, while also making sure to protect other patients from the influenza virus. It’s difficult to do because influenza is very contagious, but with flu protocols put in place, and help from the public, we can all play a part in keeping influenza numbers low.”

If patients think they have come down with influenza, CCHS is asking patients to call the Atlantic Medical Center to talk to the Resource Nurse. A number of factors come into play as to whether or not a patient should be seen by a medical provider.

“For an average, healthy adult with no other risk factors, it’s usually best to stay home,” said Dr. Todd Bean, Chief Medical Officer. “But if it’s less than 48 hours since the onset of symptoms, anti-viral medications may help shorten the duration of the flu.”

If patients are directed to come in for a flu test, or to be seen by a provider, CCHS asks that patients wear a mask upon entering the facility.

“We have free masks at every entrance, and it is critical that our influenza patients wear the mask inside of CCHS. I know that people can feel self-conscious about wearing a mask, but that mask is what helps keep our most vulnerable patients safe. As a healthcare facility, we have lots of patients in the building who are most at risk for flu complications. Newborns, elderly, patients going through chemo – they are all here,” said Dr Bean.

Patients here for influenza testing will be seated separately from other patients, and will be escorted into a designated exam room for testing. Results will be given over the phone, so that patients can return home as soon as possible.

“Containing the virus is a really key part in keeping our community healthy,” said Dr. Bean. “With influenza, you’re generally contagious from one day prior to showing symptoms, through the next 5-7 days. So staying home, isolating yourself from others, helps put an end to the virus spreading further.”

During flu season, CCHS officials also remind the public to not visit patients in the hospital if you are not feeling well or have any cold or flu symptoms.

“Visitors have good intentions – but if you are feeling ill, the best thing you can do is stay away from loved ones in the hospital who are recovering,” said Dr. Bean.

If patients have concerns about influenza, or think they have influenza, they should call 712-243-2850. If a person has influenza symptoms and any shortness of breath or breathing difficulty, they should seek medical care right away.