YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Valley health professionals say they knew the area had fallen under the state’s flu epidemic just before Christmas. Dr. Nick Kreatsoulas, Chief Medical Officer with Mercy Health, said they had an influx of patients right after Christmas, too.
“That has pretty much continued since,” Kreatsoulas said.
Officials had to take extra steps to ensure there were enough available beds for the extra patients. Kreatsoulas said they have opened extra floors at St. Elizabeth Youngstown and St. Elizabeth Boardman.
Dr. Paul Rich, chief of medicine at Northside Hospital, said similar arrangements had to be made at ValleyCare hospitals in the area. He said they have seen three to four times as many patients compared to past years.
“I’ve probably this year prescribed more Tamiflu this flu season than I’ve prescribed in the last 14 years I’ve been in practice combined,” Rich said.
While Dr. Rich says even though there have been problems with the strains in this year’s batch of influenza vaccine, it is still about 40 percent effective and everyone who is able should get one.
“Forty percent is better than zero,” Rich said.
Rich and Kreatsoulas said most at risk from this season’s strain, including the very young, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses such as COPD, should be proactive in getting to the doctor if they get sick.
“Symptoms that persist they need to contact their physicians,” Kreatsoulas said.