TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Flu season is fast approaching as the fall and winter months inch closer. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could complicate the flu season for hospitals.
The flu and COVID-19 have incredibly similar symptoms. As flu season approaches, hospitals, like Union in Terre Haute, are preparing to treat patients and make them feel safe.
News 10 caught up with Medical Director at Union Medical Group Jackie Holder. She says this has been a big topic of conversation around the hospital.
Holder says masking up, social distancing, staying home while sick, and getting vaccinated for the flu will be essential ahead of this season. She says it's these community efforts that will help you and the hospital while also decreasing flu activity.
"We're optimistic that all the techniques that we are doing for COVID-19 protection between ourselves and the offices and the community--all of these efforts--we're hopeful it's going to actually decrease the incidents of influenza as well," Holder said.
While the two illnesses have similar symptoms, they have very different treatments. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holder says the hospital actually saw both illnesses at the same time. In March, it was the tail end of flu season and COVID-19 was just starting to show its face. Holder says the hospital estimates that 1 in 5 people with COVID-19 actually also had the flu.
Union Hospital will continue to check patients for both. Holder says their primary offices are really emphasizing getting the flu vaccine this year. She says it's more essential to get it this year than ever before and evidence shows you can decrease ICU admission significantly just by being vaccinated.
"That's a big deal when those two viruses compete for the same resources whether that be a doctor's visit, a hospitalization, an ICU bed, or a ventilator," Holder explained, "They are all competing for the same resources that we know, just by watching nationally, that some health systems have come up against a problem of having those resources stretched."
Holder says the hospital is always looking to be better prepared and make patients feel safe, but it truly is a community effort.