Health officials try to prevent 'flu tsunami' from coming to Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Health and Healthcare Association of Hawaii are trying to prevent a so-called "flu tsunami" from spreading to Hawaii.

The most at-risk are kupuna.

Many hospitals on the mainland have been overwhelmed with flu cases, with some even setting up tents in their parking lots for treatment.

"We have not yet experienced the crest of the tsunami, but on the mainland this is one of the most severe flu season they've had in the last 10 years," said Hilton Raethel, CEO of The Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

And now, Hawaii officials are trying to stop that wave while focusing on older adults — 65 and up — since they make up 85 percent of all flu-related deaths in the U.S., according the Centers for Disease Control.

Older adults may have weakened immune systems or other conditions that can be worsened by the flu.

Meanwhile, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii says flu hospitalizations in Hawaii are up significantly this year.

"We are seeing numbers that are 40 to 60 percent higher than last year and that again is before the crest of flu that may be approaching from the mainland so it is a significant increase," said Raethel.

The kupuna at Lunalilo Home in Hawaii Kai have an array of activities during the day while staff has been vigilant about controlling infection with flu clinics and hand-washing before and after every meal.

"Almost 100 percent of staff and residents were inoculated for the flu," said Colleen Weir, director of Community Relations and Admissions at Lunalilo Home.

Residents Henry Lane and Evon Silva wash up and eat well to stay healthy and staff advises visitors and volunteers to stay home if they're sick.

"We do ask that those who are coming in and volunteering to police their own individuals who are going to be here. If anyone of them have colds or flu type symptoms, we ask them to stay home," said Weir.

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii says if you do get sick with the flu, go to the emergency room if you are in a high risk category which are seniors, young children, pregnant women or others with underlying conditions.

Health professionals say if you aren't in that category and you've got the flu, you can go to your doctor, urgent clinics, minute clinics or use telemedicine to get help.

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