There’s good news for local residents worried about suffering from the ill-effects of seasonal flu: cases might finally be tapering off, at least those that have been reported at Polk Medical Center.
Hospital Administrator Matt Gorman told the combined Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority and PMC, Inc., boards that flu cases coming into the emergency room we’re beginning to taper off at the end of February after the facility saw a spike in the number of people seeking treatment in the emergency room.
In January, the hospital saw 315 more patients come to the emergency room for care over the final month of 2017, going from 2,247 patients treated by the end of December to 2,762 to start off the year.
“We’ve seen a larger number of flu patients coming through the emergency room,” Gorman said. “But we’ve also seen an uptick in the number of upper respiratory infections as well.”
Gorman said final numbers weren’t available for February at the time of their meeting, but he said based on figures he check internally they were trending downward.
“They’re just now starting to taper off here in the last few days,” Gorman said during the latest Hospital Authority meeting held on Feb. 27.
He attributed the downswing of flu cases to warmer than average temperatures during the past month, which got people out of their homes and offices and contributed to the decline of the spread of this year’s seasonal flu. Officials had expected the season to worsen and the number of cases to continue to rise through March after widespread problems throughout the United States. Locally it has even contributed to the death of two people.
The decrease in emergency room visits comes as Polk Medical Center staff are set to start working on other efforts to keep the community healthy outside of the facility. That included the hospital’s charitable foundation giving a new AED unit and box to the Polk County College and Career Academy in February. The box is being placed in the front lobby of the new Cedartown campus building to ensure that students, faculty and visitors have need of a defibrillator during an emergency before paramedics can arrive.
The hospital has also recently taken part in a program in the Polk School District involving students showing how much they care about each other and the community. The classroom in Polk School District that can report the highest number of random acts of kindness will get an award from the hospital in the coming weeks.
Gorman said the program was still ongoing for the moment.
In an additional piece of news from Polk Medical Center for the month, their Chief Medical Officer attended his final meeting for the Hospital Authority. Dr. Joseph Biuso was given a round of applause as Gorman announced that he would be retiring in March following a long career in medicine.
Biuso’s final act was the Chief Medical Officer during the board meeting was to recommend that 18 doctors and nurses at the hospital receive accreditation to continue practicing.
Officials saw a brief drop in income during the previous financial report to the Hospital Authority, but profits are back to being above the budgeted figure expected, if only slightly.
Vice President of Finances for Floyd Medical Center Clarice Cable told the Hospital Authority that profits were up by 16 percent so far through the midway point of the fiscal year, with nearly $4.2 million above what was expected having come in year to date compared to the $3.5 million that was expected.
That was despite being more than $1 million off in expected revenue, but expenses were also down by more than a half-million dollars.
Insurance claims went up as part of the revenue stream into the hospital from month to month about 2 percent, while those choosing to pay for medical services without insurance was down to 18.3 percent, a 1.2 percent drop. Medicare and Medicaid still makes up a majority of the hospital’s operating revenue received, currently at 57.5 percent overall.