Hospitals busy with flu season but not weighed down

Hospitals in Elkhart and Goshen are busy treating patients with flu-like symptoms, but not too much busier than most years.

Posted on Jan. 15, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

ELKHART — Doctors and nurses in Elkhart County are busy caring for patients who have come down with the flu, but emergency departments are not overwhelmed, according to officials at Elkhart General Hospital and IU Health Goshen Hospital.

Between Nov. 1 and Monday afternoon, 730 people had visited EGH with flu symptoms, which typically include fever of 100 degrees and higher, coughing, sore throat, chills and fatigue among others. Of those, 128 patients tested positive for the flu. Shelley Rody, hospital spokeswoman, said the number of flu patients is a little higher than this time last year, but it’s not a significant spike.

Deaths in Indiana linked to the flu have climbed to 21. Jenifer Coffman, emergency department director at the Goshen hospital, said she has been keeping up to date on the flu season’s impact in Indiana and in nearby communities.

“We have seen many patients come in with flu-like symptoms, but in terms of volume, it’s no different than we have seen in years past at this point,” Coffman noted.

Employees, vendors and volunteers at EGH and IU Health Goshen Hospital are required to take flu shots as part of a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our business is to care for patients and to heal patients, and we need to protect them,” Rody said. “Getting a flu shot is just one way to do that.”

In addition, Rody and Coffman said hospital staff members take regular precautions like washing their hands often and wearing masks that cover their noses and mouths. The hospitals have also posted signs reminding visitors to sanitize their hands and avoid entering the hospital if they’re sick.

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