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Contact: Sue Ford
ALBANY, N.Y., December 19, 2003 – In response to a dramatic increase in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms being seen in the emergency department at the Albany Medical Center Hospital, officials here have implemented precautionary procedures to ensure that these patients are diagnosed and treated quickly while protecting other ED patients.
Based upon the suggestion of the New York State Department of Health, patients who enter the Albany Med emergency department exhibiting high fevers with respiratory symptoms are sent to a designated waiting area. These patients are given masks to wear to prevent the spread of their illness, and are cared for by designated staff.
“These measures will not only help prevent the spread of the flu, but also will enable us to treat those with influenza more quickly and effectively,” said Mara McErlean, M.D., chair of emergency medicine.
According to McErlean, the Albany Med emergency room has seen a 25 percent increase in patient volume in the past week. More than 30 percent of the patients being seen are exhibiting flu-like symptoms. A total of 70 patients with such symptoms were seen on Thursday.
“What differentiates the flu from another viral illness is abrupt onset of fever accompanied by intense body aches,” said McErlean. “Patients with influenza will typically have higher fevers than patients with simple colds.”
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center. It includes one of the nation’s oldest medical schools, Albany Medical College; one of New York’s largest teaching hospitals, Albany Medical Center Hospital; and one of the Capital Region’s most active fundraising organizations, the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc.