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The Daily



12-10-03: St. Marys hospital reaches capacity due to flu

Hospital in Coldwater still has room for more patients


Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys reached full capacity Monday, Tuesday and again today due to patients with the flu.
As of this morning, the hospital was not accepting any new patients, infection control coordinator Jane Mescher said.
The hospital can house 103 patients and now has 89 admitted and several others on observation status, Mescher said this morning.
“It (the flu) has a very definite effect on the pediatric department,” Mescher said. “There are a lot of kids getting it, and it is just beginning to hit the older population.”
Mescher said the exact number of flu cases could not be determined because the hospital ran out of flu test kits during the weekend. More test kits arrived Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s kind of scary. I’ve never seen this many cases this early in the flu season,” Mescher said.
Joint Township officials are diverting patients to other area hospitals, although the overflow problems appear to be isolated. Mercer County Community Hospital CEO Jim Isaacs said two patients have been admitted who were originally bound for St. Marys. Fewer than half of the hospital’s approximately 50 beds were full this morning, Isaacs said.
At an Auglaize County Health Board meeting on Tuesday morning, county director of nursing Cindy Jones said the majority of the 30 confirmed cases of flu in the county have been patients 6 years old and younger.
Jones this morning said the county ran out of the flu vaccine just this morning and has put in a request to the state to get more, but the state has a limited supply. On Friday, the two makers of the flu vaccine in the United States announced they had run out and could not distribute any more vaccines.
Several other counties also are out of the vaccine already, Jones said.
Health officials in Mercer County confirmed that more vaccines had arrived this morning. The shipment had just come in and the staff did not have an exact count but said vaccines will be administered from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday morning on a first come first serve basis. Appointments will not be scheduled.
Jones said this year’s vaccine was targeted to curb the type A Panama strand. The recent outbreak has been type A, but also has been the Fujian strand, a different subtype.
Jones said it would take about four months to get a vaccine ready to treat the Fujian strand.
“Fujian wasn’t identified as a prominent strand so the vaccine for this season was not prepared that way. Right now all we can do is administer the vaccine we have and hope for the best. It’s a tough call right now on how much protection it will provide,” she said.
Mescher said the best way to keep from spreading the flu is to wash your hands often and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Also at the health board meeting, board members revoked the food concession license of Dan Egbert, owner of Egbert Concessions, 118 Beech St., St. Marys, after he refused to make necessary repairs to his trailer.
“We asked him to turn it over voluntarily and he wouldn’t,” county sanitarian Marv Selhorst said. “We went out of our way to accommodate the problem and he was unwilling to make changes.”
Egbert has a trailer concession business and sells items such as waffles, bottled drinks, lemon shakeups and fried Twinkies and Snickers.
— Tim Cox contributed to this story.


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