As the flu continues to spread, local healthcare providers are gathering to help combat the illness. The recent jump in local influenza cases prompted Lake Regional Health System administration to host a community response meeting at the hospital on Jan. 16.
Lake Regional’s emergency preparedness coordinator, Paul Harris, R.N., led the meeting, which included Lake Regional’s infection preventionist and representatives from local EMS and fire districts, the Camden County Health Department and Camden County Emergency Management.
“As the number of influenza cases continues to climb, health care systems across our state must prepare for high patient loads,” Harris said. “We invited our community partners to this meeting to assess our current situation and to ensure that we can continue to meet the needs of our community. This information sharing ensures our strategies are flexible and proactive. We want the community to know we are taking the situation seriously.”
Bee Dampier, administrator for the Camden County Health Department, said she appreciated the chance to strengthen connections.
“It was a good opportunity for us to hear first-hand how we can support these other organizations and make sure they have what the need to continue to do their jobs well,” she said.
Positive influenza tests at Lake Regional Health System more than doubled from the last week of December (15 positive tests) to the first week of January (34 positive tests), and activity remained high last week with 30 positive tests. A similar jump occurred statewide, with the number of positive flu cases increasing from 4,862 the last week of December to 8,187 the first week of January. Statewide activity remained high at 8,022 positive tests for last week.
“Your best step for avoiding the flu is to get vaccinated each year,” said Denise Dickens, R.N., Lake Regional Health System’s infection preventionist. “After that, good health habits are important to stop the spread of germs.”
Take the following seven steps to help keep you, and those around you, healthy:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them.

Stay home from work and errands when you are sick.
If you have sick children, do not send them to school or daycare.

Cover your mouth and nose.
Use a tissue or the crook of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Wash your hands often.
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Do this at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Take care of yourself.
Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Keep up-to-date with local flu information at