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Concern for public health piques after an outbreak of a severe flu strain and deadly disease threatens people worldwide.
Unusually warm weather is to blame for an exceptionally hard hitting and early flu season. The Center of Disease Control estimates approximately 15 million cases and 8,200 deaths between October of 2019 and January of this year.
Looming behind is the coronavirus originating from bat meat distribution at a meat and fish market in Wuhan, China. Out of 11 million people in Wuhan, the infection spreads to 2,000 people resulting in 81 deaths. Experts warn 100,000 people across 13 countries may carry the disease. In the United States there are 110 suspicious cases with five confirmed.
James Matfield, Hathian General Hospital administrator, warns people to take preventive measures to avoid flu infection.
“With flu season in effect, we recommend people to come in and get a flu shot, even if the believe they have already had the flu. As a precaution, stay away from others you know are sick, wear a face mask if possible, wash your hands often, and use hand sanitizers.”
This particular strain of flu mimics symptoms of other diseases, making it difficult to diagnose.
“I’ve had a lot of people come in with symptoms that mirror strep throat. When we run the tests, it turns out that it is the flu instead. So this year’s flu has a lot of common cold symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, fever, body aches, headaches, and coughing.”
Early detection within the first three to four days is crucial for a quick recovery. Mattfield encourages anyone with continued vomiting and a temperature of 101°F or higher, lasting over four hours, check into the hospital.
Missing the early window, symptomatic treatment is the only option.
“We can at least assist with reducing their temperature and keeping them hydrated. Outside the hospital, keep hydrated. Drink lots of fluids and rest. Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and Motrin can help lower the temperature.”
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to the flu. Though symptomatic treatment is available, a cure is not yet found.
“We can’t speed up coronavirus infection like flu… Nothing has been able to touch coronavirus and realistically, most likely won’t.”
To avoid coronavirus infection, Mattfield encourages people to take the same precautions as they would with the flu. He also offers additional advice.
“Check with your meat provider to ensure you are eating only fresh, farm raised cattle. I’m always wary of imported beef, myself. I’m not sure if anyone has caught it from beef though; it has been bats as the prime suspect. Unless the butcher shop sells bats now, we should be good. I’d suggest not traveling overseas for the time being and avoid going to the big cities. Our chances of contracting it increase with people traveling through airports.”
In the event of an epidemic, Hathian General Hospital is ready to administer aid. A recent influx of medical staff ensures enough hands for emergency triage. Plans for triage centers and emergency medical bays are in place. While Mattfield has medical supplies in stock, shortage is a concern.
“When I first saw coronavirus hitting the news, I began stockpiling the hospital with some supplies just in case. We aren’t a rich hospital and most of our patients can’t afford to pay us for our services. Which means what we can afford to buy is very limited from our budget. So hopefully if something big hits, we will have enough supplies to cover it. For now, I am focused on keeping us stocked with fresh IVs bags and basic medications.”
Unpaid medical bills leave Hathian General Hospital on a tight budget. Mattfield encourages patients to pay their bills and welcomes donations to ease the financial burden.
“It is almost time for our billing department to send out bills to collect on unpaid bills. Our fiscal year is up soon and well, running a hospital isn’t free; nor is medical services in the United States. Don’t come yelling at us because you get a bill. If you go to any hospital, you should expect a bill.”
Medical expenses are as much of a concern for Hathian General Hospital as it is for patients. Hospital stays come with steep costs, but a new drug on trial may help cut down recovery time.
“The drug would help the body heal quicker after an injury and even treat anxiety.. I’d guess that the majority of this city has some sort of anxiety. Fitting we would get a drug trial focusing on that.”
Patients may volunteer in the drug trial for a small fee.