The first case of flu has already appeared in Scottsdale and local hospitals are looking at new ways to see sick people quicker than ever during what could be a busy season.
Scottsdale Healthcare Shea has one confirmed case and there is another at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn that might be the flu, said hospital spokeswoman Felicia Thomas.
The hospital has ordered 18,000 flu shots and will host clinics starting Nov. 4. Other Scottsdale facilities will have flu shots available starting today.
Meanwhile, Paradise Valley Hospital is preparing for the start of the season by streamlining its emergency room procedure to see more patients faster.
A flu shot is not surefire prevention against getting sick, but it is a proactive approach, said Gail Lara, Scottsdale Healthcare Occupational Health Department spokeswoman.
“The flu shot, in the way it’s made, is based on last year’s flu, so it’s hard to foresee what the flu season is going to bring,” she said.
She recommended the shot be given to children, older people, medical personnel, people who work with children and anyone in contact with the public.
One of the myths surrounding the flu shot is that it causes some people to become ill. Lara said the shot is based on a dead virus. At most, it will cause fatigue or a low-grade fever, she said.
Scottsdale Healthcare is trying to get a jump on the season by partnering with large employers and expanding its flu shot clinics to include more grocery stores, Thomas said.
Along with flu shots, area hospitals are trying to shorten the time patients have to wait for care. Besides the annual march of sneezes and sniffles, colder weather also brings many winter visitors to the Valley. And that means more people in doctors’ waiting rooms.
A few months ago, Scottsdale Healthcare went through every department to eliminate time-wasting activities, Thomas said.
Paradise Valley Hospital implemented a new system where noncritical patients are put on a fast track to be seen and released.
Judy Polyak, the hospital’s customer relations manager, said it is trying to serve the needs of the community, and won’t turn away those who could be seen by a doctor.
“A lot of doctors’ offices are busy, and people trying to get in to see their doctor may have no choice,” she said.
After patients enter the hospital, nurses will determine whether the case is severe enough for emergency care.
Those who are suffering from more mild problems will be treated and either placed in a room or sent back to the waiting room if there aren’t enough beds.
“The last thing (patients) want to do is sit here all day long,” Polyak said.
The hospital also recently eliminated paperwork by doing bedside registration with laptop computers. No longer will patients have to fill out stacks of forms before being seen. Instead, medical staff will take patients’ personal and insurance information after treatment has begun.
The hospital also plans to go paperless starting in spring by using electronic documentation of charts, Xrays and doctors’ orders. The new system will provide an instant flow of information and allow two people to view the documents at the same time.
At a time when some emergency rooms are full for hours at a time, Polyak said hospitals need to improve.
“The population is growing, and everyone needs to be in the process of streamlining,” she said.
Fever Headache Fatigue Cough Sore throat Runny/stuffy nose Body aches Diarrhea Vomiting
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Scottsdale flu shots
Flu season has begun, and flu shots are available at the following locations, dates and times
Scottsdale community center flu shots
Cost: $25 unless covered by healthcare plan Appointments: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Walk-ins: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Granite Reef Senior Center
1700 N. Granite Reef Road (480) 312-1700 Oct. 24 and 31
Via Linda Senior Center
10440 N. Via Linda (480) 312-5810 Today, Oct. 30, Nov. 6, Nov. 13
Paiute Neighborhood Center
6535 E. Osborn Road (480) 312-0006 Oct. 26, Nov. 2
Scottsdale Healthcare flu shots
Cost: $25 without insurance No appointment necessary at most locations
(480) 323-1880 for information
245 E. Bell Road, Phoenix 9 a.m. to noon, Nov. 4
4402 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 4
Henry's Farmers Market
13823 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 11
AJ's Fine Foods
7141 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale 9 a.m., Nov. 18
Scottsdale Healthcare Health Information Center
8322 E. McDowell Road, Ste. 105, Scottsdale Appointment necessary. (480) 421-0598 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nov. 10 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 15 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nov. 20, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 1
SOURCE: Scottsdale; Scottsdale Healthcare, TRIBUNE