Swine flu has sent nearly 20,000 Americans to hospitals, and in Cleveland, this has been a particularly difficult week for regional health facilities - with large numbers of people showing flu symptoms. ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports.
Cleveland's three major regional hospitals are combating the increasing instances of flu cases, both the H1N1 flu and the virtually indistinguishable Influenza A.
Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan is Chairman of the Infectious Health Control Commission at MetroHealth Medical Center. She says the situation is extremely serious, that cases are growing exponentially, and that the flu is threatening to overwhelm medical professionals who are treating the sick.
DR. JENNIFER HANRAHAN: "We've had somewhere between 50 and 60 people each day, over the past week. It's not overwhelming yet. I think as the numbers continue to increase, there is certainly potential for that to happen"
As of Friday morning, 55 of the people treated at MetroHealth have been admitted. Five of them are in the Intensive Care Unit. Additionally, some hospital staffers have become infected, and are home recuperating.
The numbers are just as daunting at the Cleveland Clinic, which reported between 40 and 45 people a day are walking into its' Emergency Room with flu symptoms. A dozen adults and children are currently being treated in the I-C-U there.
At University Hospitals' main campus,` 851 people were treated between October 18th and 25th. 263 were admitted for either overnight observation or longer term care.
During that same period, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital admitted 100 children, out of nearly 900 who went to the Emergency Room.
Dr. Hanrahan says while the growth in cases is alarming, a larger concern is that some at-risk people still aren't trusting that the vaccines are effective.
DR. HANRAHAN: "The H1N1 vaccine is completely safe. People who are at high risk really need to go and get this, because we are seeing pregnant women who are sick, and that's a terrible thing to see."
However, supplies of the vaccine remain limited, as only about 16% of what was anticipated to be used - has actually been produced.