Practice hand washing to fight the flu!

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Flu season is in full swing here in Pecos County, and providers in Fort Stockton have been busy aiding the citizens in fighting the illness.

All physicians and nurses emphasized the importance of seeing a doctor if symptoms presented themselves.

“From the start of the new year, we have had 23 cases of the flu,” said Kristin Canario of Cactus Health Services. “Some people might have the normal cough, fever, and chills. Nausea, vomiting, and stomach issues can also be symptoms of the flu.”

Mary Pacheco, LVN, of Dr. Mallik’s new clinic stated they had also seen patients who tested positive for the flu.

“We have had quite a bit of people come in who have been treated for flu symptoms,” said Pacheco.

Pecos County Memorial Hospital’s Infection Control Coordinator, Ethny Valenzuela (RN), said the hospital has also seen many people who have tested positive for the flu. Valenzuela discussed what patients can do to avoid contracting the flu, including getting vaccinated and washing hands frequently.

“PCMH offers flu vaccinations to all employees and volunteers at no cost to them annually, with 270 vaccinated this year,” said Valenzuela. “Free flu vaccines were also offered at the PCMH Open House on Dec. 8, 201, where 34 were administered. We have had positive cases of the flu, and we emphasize hand washing in patients, as well as the need to cover their cough. We strongly recommend getting a flu shot if they have not already been vaccinated.”

Cactus Health Services also stressed that patients should vaccinate themselves and their children, stay home if they are sick, and wash their hands regularly.

“We normally order 100 vaccines, and now we only have about ten left,” said Canario. “We have been encouraging hand washing in patients, and for them to use hand sanitizer if they have to. If a child is sick and a parent needs to go to get them medicine, we ask them to wear masks out in public. Staying home when you are sick is the most important thing.”

Outside of the doctor’s office, Fort Stockton Independent School District has been doing their part to keep teachers, staff, and students as healthy as possible.

“We offered teachers and staff the chance to sign up for free flu shots before the holidays,” said Superintendent Ralph Traynham. “We coordinated this with Dr. George, and we had about 80 members of the staff sign up for them. This is the first year we’ve done this, and there wasn’t a lot of prep time that we could put into it. Next year, we will plan on telling everyone sooner so that they can prepare.”

Traynham also discussed an extra precaution the schools take to keep everyone within them from getting sick.

“We also work with a company called GermBlast; they schedule visits to our campuses three times a year through flu season,” said Traynham. “They come in on a weekend and wipe everything down in each campus. Then they spray a solution over the campus that has a barrier on it that continues to kill bacteria for six weeks. We take proactive measures to treat all campuses.”

For more information on the flu, or to vaccinate yourself or your child, call PCMH at 432-336-2004, Dr. Mallik’s clinic at 432-299-7108, or Cactus Health Services at 432-336-8110.

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