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“Flu Zone” Opens Jan. 15

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Health officials are calling this season’s flu outbreak the worst one in 15 years, which is filling emergency departments across Southern California. Antelope Valley Hospital has seen a 23 percent increase in patients coming into the emergency department since November. The hospital has confirmed more than 320 cases of flu. The Centers for Disease Control issued a national health advisory about the flu virus last week due to the high number of confirmed cases across the country.

To help alleviate overcrowding, reduce wait times in the emergency department, and better serve the community, AV Hospital has created a unique "Flu Zone" where patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms will be assessed and treated. The zone has its own waiting area and four treatment bays. This not only allows these patients to be seen more quickly, it helps reduce the spread of the virus to other patients in the general emergency department waiting room. The Flu Zone, which is located inside the hospital, will officially open Monday, Jan. 15.

"We are definitely seeing many more patients with flu symptoms, which is heavily impacting our emergency department," said AV Hospital emergency room physician, Larry Stock, M.D. "The addition of the ‘Flu Zone’ is a creative way for us to fast-track flu patients and reduce the bottleneck in our emergency waiting area."

In the flu zone, physicians will assess each patient to determine what kind of treatment he or she may need. For many patients this means allowing the virus to run its course, which can take up to two weeks and requires a lot of rest and fluids.

It’s not too late to protect yourself against complications associated with the flu. Dr. Stock offers these three tips:

  • Get a flu shot as soon as possible. Contact your physician’s office about getting the flu vaccine; or many local drug stores, like CVS and Walgreens, offer the vaccine at a low cost. It is important to note, though, the flu vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu. It can provide protection against the complications associated with the flu, which can be life-threatening.
  • Take precautions. Avoid sick people. Wash your hands often. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Disinfect surfaces that can harbor germs like door handles, desktops and counters.
  • Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise. Drink a lot of fluids.

If you suspect you’re coming down with the flu, get plenty of rest. Flu symptoms include: cough, sore throat, fever, chills, aches, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting or diarrhea. If you are having trouble breathing or feel weak, see your doctor or go to the emergency department.

"In particular, we ask that people with flu-like symptoms not visit others who are in the hospital," said Dr. Stock. "Hospitalized patients may already be more vulnerable to getting sick, especially babies and the elderly, and exposing them to the flu virus can have deadly consequences."

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm.