With concerns about a flu epidemic sending many Westhampton and Hampton Bays residents hurrying for a flu shot - and some stores reporting dwindling supplies -- the Peconic Bay Medical Center is reporting a higher number of flu cases this year and Southampton Hospital officials say patient volume is up the emergency room.
According to Denise Gluck, nursing director for emergency medical services at PBMC, the hospital has seen an approximately 25 percent higher overall number of flu cases than what is normal for the current time of year.
"We've already exceeded the total number of cases we saw last year and we expect the season to last another two months," Gluck said.
As for reports that the flu is considered an epidemic, Gluck said, "It appears to be."
Gluck said so far, PBMC has seen between ten and 12 confirmed flu cases. And, she added, "Not everyone that comes in with symptoms gets the actual flu test. A lot of times people are being sent home with just a presumptive diagnosis."
To keep patients safe, Gluck said there are signs posted at the entrances to the hospital and emergency room in English and Spanish, advising visitors that if they have a cough, fever or other flu symptoms, to please grab a mask.
Meanwhile, at Southampton Hospital, spokesman Marsha Kenny said patient volume is up in the emergency room.
“We have an uptick in census in the emergency department," Kenny said. "A lot of people are coming in, some people with flu symptoms, and some people who are just really sick.”
Kenny said that when people have flu symptoms, they should go to their primary care physician right away, instead of waiting until they are very ill and heading to the emergency room.
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