Just how did our sister company, Physicians Immediate Care, (same owners as Practice Velocity, LLC) make such a positive impact on kids? Last week, a little girl came into one of our clinics with a fever, cough and runny nose. Her flu test was positive for influenza A; it turned out to be the Swine (H1N1) flu strain, and the entire school district was closed down for two days… WooHaa… The weather was beautiful, and the kids had a great time. Bad news, however, the students will spend an extra two days in school at the end of the year.
While the kids where home, the local news showed public school staff “disinfecting” desks, floors, walls and school buses. Local administrators praised the effectiveness of this "disinfection.” After a day on a solid object (called a “fomite” in medical terminology) at room temperature, essentially 100% of flu viruses will no longer be viable. Thus, the staff may have been cleaning these objects, but they probably did not kill even a single flu virus in their hundreds of hours of work. This misdirection of resources emphasizes the need for better education of school administrators on the prevention and spread of influenza viruses.
One of our employees had a daughter who attended the same school as the index case came down with influenza A. Her daughter took the Tamiflu. From the picture, you can see that her daughter is already much better.
One point that the US Government seems to be missing in their efforts to prepare for an epidemic or biological terrorist threat is that hospitals and hospital emergency departments will not really be the front line, and their resources will be rapidly overwhelmed. Urgent care centers in the USA number almost 10,000. Urgent care is the clinic of choice for patients when they come down with acute, apparently non-life-threatening illnesses. That means that for any epidemic except a rapidly-fatal epidemic, urgent care centers will be the front line of health care. The Urgent Care Association of America is in the process of developing policies and information to disseminate this information to the public, government representatives and public health officials.
Even local urgent care centers seemed confused about how they should react. One local urgent care center made the local news when it posted a large "Swine Flu Notice" sign on the front door. The sign stated that no one suffering from a "sore throat, cough, runny nose or fever" should enter the clinic. Oops! Looks like even someone in the industry needed a little update on the mission of urgent care.
I bet that a lot of you have interesting stories about how your urgent care was involved in the Swine Flu panic of 2009. Just click on the link below to comment and share your stories.