Mount Sinai Responds to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Declaration of a Flu Epidemic for New York State

Unvaccinated are urged to get flu shots.

New York, NY
 – January 15, 2013 /Press Release/  –– 

Infectious disease experts at The Mount Sinai Medical Center urge those who are unvaccinated to get flu shots from their physicians or local pharmacies.

On Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency for New York State due to a flu epidemic. Nearly 20,000 cases of influenza have been reported, which is four times the number of cases reported last year. As of January 5, 2013, the New York State Department of Health received reports of nearly 3,000 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, compared to 1,169 total hospitalizations in 2011.

Mount Sinai Emergency Department visits have increased 20 percent and primary care practices and clinics have been inundated with patients."Due to a growing number of influenza cases and nearby hospital closures, Mount Sinai is experiencing an increase in patient volume," said David L. Reich, MD, Interim President of The Mount Sinai Hospital. "Pediatric and adult internal medicine clinic hours have been extended to meet the demand."

"This is one of the most severe flu seasons New York City has experienced in several years, and is in stark contrast to last year which was especially mild," said Kevin Baumlin, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Experts urge patients who are experiencing shortness of breath, difficulty drinking fluids, and high fevers to see their own physicians. Tylenol or ibuprofen can help with fever and pain. Those with fever, body aches and fatigue should stay home until fever is gone for 24 hours before they return to work or school.Those who are sick should cover their cough to prevent the spread of the virus and good hand hygiene is recommended for all.

"We will administer the vaccine as needed to patients and any remaining unvaccinated staff,"said Fran Wallach, MD, Hospital Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Mount Sinai Hospital."Getting a flu shot can help prevent the flu or make symptoms less severe," Dr. Wallach added. People who regularly come in contact with individuals at high risk (young children, people 65 or older, people with certain underlying medical conditions and pregnant women) are urged to get the flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been testing this year's known influenza viruses and matching them to three viruses included in the 2012-2013 flu vaccine. This year's vaccine provides protection against the strain of influenza seen in the community.

In order to protect their health and the health of patients, Mount Sinai continues to encourage all personnel to get vaccinated. Personnel who are not vaccinated are required to wear surgical masks while in patient care areas.

For more information on the flu, go to http://www.mountsinaifpa.org/patient-care/practices/primary-care/flu-information.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation's top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place.

For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org/.
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