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Lee Health Prepares for flu in Southwest Florida

How Lee Health is handling the local flu outbreak and the plans in place if it were to get worse.

Lee Health is dealing with, “slightly over 330 cases (of the flu) each week,” according to Stephen Streed, the system director of epidemiology and infection prevention.

“We went up again at the end of 2017, we went up dramatically. And again, this last week, we stayed almost identical numbers.”

Despite those startling numbers, the hospital appears to be handling the cases smoothly.

“We’re still at capacity and we’re handling them very well. We have over 70 patients in the hospital with the flu right now in our five campuses.

While Lee Health has local flu cases under control at the moment, there’s also a plan in place should the amount of cases increase even more.

“If it got much more than that, then we would have to start thinking about a plan to divert or a plan to limit elective admissions for instance. Right now, we have that capacity, and we’re meeting the needs we can,” said Streed.

Streed also mentioned the extensive plans made for the swine flu in 2009-2010 could be dusted off, if necessary. To prevent that, however, he recommended staying home when sick, coughing into sleeves, maintaining good hygiene, and disinfecting surfaces regularly.

He also recommends people get vaccinated.

“The vaccine they say this year is about 33% effective. And I always say if you had a 33% chance of winning the lottery, what would you do? You take it.”

There have been varying reports of the actual effectiveness of the vaccine, but Streed says that though it isn’t guaranteed protection, it should at least help make your flu less severe should you contract it.

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