City, hospital working on flu plan

The worldwide panic over the swine flu outbreak has left people in two distinct camps, some donning masks and gloves while wondering if it’s safe to attend large gatherings, while others consider the issue a bit overblown.

Government at all levels is acting on the side of caution and it’s no different in Enumclaw, where officials are forced to prepare for the worst.

“We’re working on a contingency plan,” City Administrator Mark Bauer said. “We need to be prepared.”

The question for city officials, Bauer said, involves maintaining essential services in the face of an outbreak in the community. Bauer and city department heads met Friday to begin discussions about backup plans to keep police, fire and public works functions humming in the event of a health emergency.

Monday, city staff gathered with representatives from both the Enumclaw School District and Enumclaw Regional Hospital.

At the hospital, one patient exhibited symptoms that led medical personnel to conduct the swine flu test and send samples to the CDC in Atlanta. Shelly Pricco, director of patient care services, said doctors are awaiting the results.

She said staff is being cautious, screening patients considered at-risk. That would include patients who have recently traveled to Mexico or those in close contact with anyone who has been in Mexico.

Also, the hospital is encouraging anyone with flu-like symptoms to avoid visiting.

Finally, Friday, the hospital began taking the names and telephone numbers of all those who visit the facility. In case there is an outbreak, Pricco said, the staff wants to be able to contact those who have been in the hospital.

There have been daily meetings, she added, to keep staff updated on the latest information issued by the CDC.

Reach Kevin Hanson at khanson@courierherald.com or 360-802-8205.