Winnersville formulates pandemic plan - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Winnersville formulates pandemic plan

November 29, 2006

Valdosta -- When it comes to the flu, Valdosta and Lowndes County are preparing for the worst. They are meeting to discuss how to handle a flu pandemic and keep the masses out of the ER.  

South Georgia Medical Center is the first stop for patients in Lowndes County feeling flu symptoms. Seeing over 200 patients a day, a flu outbreak could throw the crowded emergency room into Chaos.  

"The hospital would become a refuge for people seeking treatment for the flu. And in that, we would change our normal routine procedures and go into a plan we have for pandemic flu," said Chief Operating Officer Randy Sauls.

This plan would call assistance from agencies all over the area including fire, police, city and county officials. Each would have a job to help keep the community in order. "We coordinate activities and resource deployment so we can manage the environment collectively," said Sauls.

A triage could also be set up at Mathis City Auditorium for anyone with symptoms, up the hospitals already crowded Emergency Room for every day patients. "We could use the actual emergency department just for patient care and do the triage and initial stabilization at Mathis City so it would take a large burden off the Emergency Department," said ER Chief Dr. Howard Jones.

With the country facing an 77 percent chance of being hit with a wide spread illness, planning is matter for when, not if. "So its just a matter of time when a particular mutation occurs and a virus spreads through the population," said Saul.

This plan will also be used in case of another wide spread emergency in the county. Hospital officials still say the best way to keep from getting the flu is to wash your hands often and get vaccinated.        

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