Area hospitals busy with flu-like cases

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Natchez hospitals are at full capacity thanks to an influx of patients with flu-like symptoms. Natchez Regional Medical Center has 205 beds, and all of them are occupied, said Administrator Karen Fiducia. Natchez Community Hospital’s 81 beds are also full, said Marketing Director Kay Ketchings.

&uot;And we attribute (our) increase to flu-like illnesses,&uot;&160;said David Cronic, assistant administrator at Natchez Regional.

Fiducia said the hospital can still admit patients based on the acuity, or severity, of their conditions. &uot;People should still come to the hospital,&uot;&160;she said.

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Although Natchez is one of the areas being hit &uot;intensely,&uot; a trend of flu-type illnesses is being seen statewide, said Robert Hotchkiss, director of the Mississippi Department of Health’s Office of Community Health Services.

He said his office will probably report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention next week that such illnesses are widespread in Mississippi — meaning they have spread over half the state.

Only five cases of actual influenza type A have been reported in Mississippi, but flu cases do not have to be reported to the Health Department, Hotchkiss said.

But the trend is not limited to Mississippi. At Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday, La., 48 of 49 beds were occupied as of Wednesday. Most of those cases involved flu, bronchitis and upper respiratory infections.

And Administrator Vernon Stevens said the hospital has been seeing those types of cases since December, though it usually would not see that many until February.

While hospitals have remained nearly full since the first onset of the flu-like virus last week, doctors’ offices are completely packed with the congested, tired, sore, feverish masses.

&uot;It’s been killing us,&uot; said Shirley Hoggatt, clinic manager for the Family Medical Center on Jefferson Davis Boulevard in Natchez. &uot;In the last two weeks, I’d say we’re seeing almost twice as many patients as we usually see.&uot;