PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you have had the flu this year, you are not alone.

People all across the area are dealing with it.

There have been so many cases, UPMC is taking a significant step to help protect patients and employees.

From non-stop coughing to fever and aches and pains, the flu has been especially brutal this season.

“The flu strain that’s very prevalent this year is the same flu strain in 2009 that everybody called the Swine Flu, if you remember that, and people were really sick at that point in time, too,” UPMC Chief Nurse Executive Holly Lorenz said.

To give you an idea of just how bad the flu is right now, at Montefiore alone, there are more than 50 patients who have either tested positive for the flu or are suspected of having it, 50 percent of those patients are in the ICU.

“When we had the flu last year, we had one person that was getting very aggressive therapy called EC-MO, when they are on a really complex heart-lung bypass machine. Last year, I had one of those patients. This year, I’ve had over 40 of them,” Lorenz said.

There have been about 500 flu cases and 12 flu deaths at UPMC hospitals this season.

Because of that, there is now a proactive plan in place to help protect patients and employees.

From now on, if an employee shows flu-like symptoms, they will be tested and sent home.

“If I am an employee and I work in one of those high-risk areas, if I am positive for the flu, we’re going to ask that they not come back to work for seven days or until they have no fever or cough. But, the minimum is probably going to be seven days,” Lorenz said.

Employees who don’t work in an area like ICU or in a unit with transplant patients will be asked to go home and return after their fever subsides for 24 hours.

Plus, each room containing a flu patient has a sign outside the door so everyone within three feet of that patient knows to take extra precautions.

In terms of protecting yourself, get a flu shot.

“I would love to walk you to a drug store or your physician to get that flu shot. It’s definitely not too late,” Lorenz said.


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