N.J. lawmakers get update on flu

A New Jersey Assembly committee heard testimony Monday about the impact of the flu outbreak.

The situation is dire, according to Shelley Greenman, an emergency room doctor at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

“We are seeing unprecedented volumes of people coming into the emergency departments with flu,” she said. “I’ve been in the ER for 21 years and, frankly, I’ve never seen anything like this, from the just mildly ill needing work notes to very debilitative requiring admission.”

Officials with the New Jersey Hospital Association say hospitals are expanding treatment areas they’re able to handle the increased number of patients.

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Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway, who is also a doctor at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, says the spike in flu cases is putting a strain on hospitals.

“Just in my own hospital, talking to the emergency room (personnel), they have seen a lot of pressure,” said Conaway, D-Camden. “They have been using additional rooms in the hospital because of so many people coming through the emergency room related to flu and that’s put pressure on other operations.”

Dr. Rick Hong, head of the emergency medical services division at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, urges people get a flu shot.

“If the public does get the vaccinations as recommended, we can probably contain it as we’ve done in previous years,” Hong said.

Hospitals have brought in additional staff to cope with the flu outbreak, and some are restricting visits help prevent the flu from spreading.

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