Health Network Reminds Residents of Pandemic Flu Preparedness
April 30, 2009Franklin Community Health Network (FCHN) is reminding residents that it has had a pandemic flu preparedness plan in place for years and has tested it to ensure an efficient and immediate response in the event of a local flu outbreak.
The health network, which includes Franklin Memorial Hospital, was among the first hospital networks in Maine to develop such a plan. "The plan looks at how the hospital will deal with a 'surge' of patients," said Rebecca Ryder, FCHN President/CEO. "It also covers patient triage, admissions, clinical guidelines, and other issues and roles, responsibilities, and key activities before, during, and following the outbreak."
On April 29, it was announced that there are identified cases of swine flu (H1N1) in Maine. According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of the swine flu are similar to those of seasonal influenza, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some have reported diarrhea and vomiting.
Spread of this H1N1 virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. The most important strategies to minimize the flu's impact in Maine are those of vigilant respiratory hygiene: covering coughs and sneezes with sleeves or elbows; washing hands frequently; and staying home if ill, especially with a fever.
Updates on local H1N1 flu activity can be heard on the Greater Franklin County flu hotline. The recorded hotline offers information about H1N1 flu prevention, symptoms, what you should do if you become sick, and more. The hotline number is 207-779-3147.
Daily updates will also be posted on the FCHN Web site at www.fchn.org and sent to media outlets.
Those wanting additional information about H1N1 may call the Maine Center for Disease Control toll-free information line at 1-888-257-0990 during regular business hours.
"Anyone who becomes ill with flu-like symptoms may contact their health care provider to determine whether testing or treatment is needed," said Ryder. "And, stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, in September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.
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