Local Hospitals "Ready to Deal" with Swine Flu

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

As health officials say the swine flu outbreak is likely to grow, local hospitals say they're ready to deal with it.

As the list of states and countries with confirmed cases of swine flu continues to grow each day, doctors say it won't be long before Colorado joins them.

"It's likely that if it spreads further than it is right now, it will wind up certainly in Colorado and probably in Mesa County," said Dr. William Lockwood.

Dr. Lockwood is an infectious disease specialist at St. Mary's Hospital. He says with those kinds of odds, the hospital is working to get ready, training employees and stocking up on supplies.

"The ER is looking for it, infection prevention is looking for it and we are prepared to report any cases of it that we find," said Dr. Lockwood.

The Colorado Department of Health Says it has already sent 5 suspect samples to the Centers for Disease Control for confirmatory testing.

When asked if St. Mary's had sent any samples to the Colorado Department of Health, Dr. Lockwood said "not at this point."

He says as he and other medical professionals in the state wait to hear more on those cases, the overarching concern is that they don't know much about this new strain of the flu.

"We don't really know if this is going to be any worse than seasonal flu or not at this point," said Dr. Lockwood.

But officials say what they do know is that it has many of the same symptoms as seasonal flu, including fever, coughing, and sore throat among others. Dr. Lockwood says if you experience any flu like symptoms, the first step is to see a primary care physician -- but if things do not improve --

"If there's ongoing symptoms, being referred for testing or coming to the ER might in fact be necessary," said Dr. Lockwood.

In the meantime, Dr. Lockwood says washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer is your best bet to avoid getting sick.

St. Mary's says it's glad to see that people have not been piling into the emergency room. Local primary care physicians 11 News spoke to say they appreciate the fact that people are not panicking and are not packing their lobbies either.

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