Flu-Related ER Visits In Melrose Park, Hines Are Up Big, County Data Shows

Saturday, December 30, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews 

The number of people experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as cough and sore throat, at hospital emergency departments across the state is increasing, according to Cook County Department of Public Health data.

The uptick has prompted state health authorities to recommend that hospitals put in place more visitor restrictions.

According to Dec. 26 ABC 7 report, “During the week ending Dec. 16, 385 people have tested positive for influenza and 31 ICU hospitalizations were reported since September.

“That’s compared to last year when 55 people tested positive for influenza and only 13 ICU hospitalizations were reported during the same time.”

A Dec. 28 report by the Journal & Topics notes that the data for the last weeks of 2017 shows that young people, newborns to 4 years old and those 5 to 17 years old, are experiencing the most cases of flu-like symptoms.

According to a map released by Cook County health officials, Melrose Park is among the areas experiencing the highest concentrations of reported cases of residents having flu-like symptoms who visited hospital emergency departments.

In the last several weeks of 2017, the number of residents of Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood and Melrose Park who have been going to emergency departments with flu-like symptoms has risen markedly.

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But the area zip code that experienced the greatest increase in flu-related emergency visits among its residents was 60141, which is where Hines VA Hospital is located.

According to county data, Hines had no reported cases of flu-related emergency visits in weeks 46 through 50. But in week 51, visits increased by an overwhelming 25 percent, the data shows — the highest spike in the county during that period.

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Hines experienced a 25 percent uptick in flu symptom-related hospital visits in week 51 of 2017. | Cook County Department of Public Health 

On Dec. 27, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommended that hospitals implement more restrictive protocols for patients.

According the Journal & Topics, those restrictions include “barring visitors under the age of 18 from patient care areas (except the emergency room) and limiting visitors to only two at any one time.”

Some hospitals, such as Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, have recommended that people with flu-like symptoms not visit hospitals, the Journal & Topics reports.

Officials with Westlake Hospital and Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, and with Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, could not be reached on Saturday to confirm whether or not they had implemented similar visitor restrictions.

County health officials are calling the recent uptick in flu cases a pandemic and recommend that those experiencing flu-related symptoms “be responsible and stay home.” They also recommend that people get annual flu vaccines to protect themselves and their families.

Other recommendations include (click here to access the county’s flu brochure):

  • Remember to cover your mouth and nose if you cough and sneeze, and keep your distance from others as much as possible until you are well again.
  • Put used tissues in a wastebasket.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest. It is important to prevent dehydration.
  • When going to the doctor’s office or emergency room, ask for a mask to reduce exposure to others.
  • Check with your health care provider for medical advice (e.g. over-the counter medications to relieve flu symptoms).

Click here for more info on the flu virus. VFP 

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