Students with H1N1 flu symptoms are being encouraged to call a recently created hotline to consult a nurse about their symptoms before they come into Wardenburg Health Center.
According to Sandra Sonoda, a nurse who works with infection control at Wardenburg, the H1N1 specific hotline was created in the second week in September. The purpose was to give potentially sick students enough information about their symptoms to diagnose and treat themselves at home.
“It was really a matter of an emergency measure to try to cut down on the number of visits from people who would normally do find and were not recommended to get treatment,” Sonoda said. “We wanted (to counsel) people who would normally do fine with the flu on how to take care of themselves, to make sure they watch for complications.”
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said Wardenburg may become too crowded to accommodate all of its patients without the hotline.
“We can’t have everybody with a sore throat coming into Wardenburg,” Hilliard said. “We don’t have the resources.”
Anyone who may not be able to handle the flu by his or herself is encouraged to visit Wardenburg.
“The people we wanted to make sure got seen were the people who were worsening or the people who had complicating health conditions that might put them in the hospital,” Sonoda said. “The recommendation is not to give people (the antiviral drug) Tamiflu unless they have either worsening conditions or flu or . . . conditions that would predispose them to complications of flu.”
Preexisting complications that put a flu patient at risk include diabetes, asthma, liver conditions, kidney conditions, immune suppression and HIV, according to Sonoda.
Eric Simley, a masters candidate for electrical engineering, said he called the hotline when he felt sick.
“It basically told you what to do and not to go to Wardenburg unless it was serious,” Simely said.
Simley said he had mixed feelings about using the hotline. On the one hand, it was helpful, but on the other hand it was kind of discouraging.
Sonoda said the hotline got 20 to 30 calls per day during the month of September, but that Wardenburg currently receives under a dozen calls a week.
“When we started (the phone line), we had ten per day and those numbers have gone down as the number of visits have waned,” Sonoda said.
Sonoda added she thinks the recent dip in number of calls has occurred because the H1N1 flu comes in waves.
“There is always going to be talk about flu coming in waves, and I am hoping that we got through our first wave,” she said.
The first wave of H1N1 cases began on move-in day when the first H1N1 patient walked in the door, according to Wardenburg’s Web site. By Sept. 11, about 100 students per week visited Wardenburg with flu-like symptoms.
Ginny Adler, the manager at the Medical Clinic, said the hotline was currently being run by the regular phone nurse instead of a specifically designated H1N1 hotline nurse due to the recent lack of calls.
“If we get another surge or wave of (H1N1 flu) activity we’ll for sure put it back in place,” Alder said, adding it was hard to tell when another wave of flu might occur.
Hilliard said he thinks the H1N1 cases could pick up as the weather gets colder.
“Once students start to go indoors, we might see the numbers go up,” he said.
Sonoda said the hotline is meant to be a temporary measure and not a permanent addition to Wardenburg resources.
Students who feel they might have H1N1 flu symptoms can reach the hotline at 303-492-3435. For information about the H1N1 flu, students can call 303-492-8741.
Contact CUIndependent Staff Writer Julie Ryan at Julie.Ryan@colorado.edu.