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Inordinate number of flu questions sparks Gundersen to start influenza info line; 171 cases of disease at hospital so far

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Crushed by the numbers of questions to nurse advisers have taken on the flu, Gundersen Health System in La Crosse has turned to an automated influenza info line.

Last year at this time, the number locally of influenza A cases was at most 15. As of Thursday, Gundersen had 171, and the actual number of cases are likely well beyond that, Megan Meller, the infection preventionist at Gundersen, said.

Gundersen nurse advisers have been taking about 300 calls per day in the midst of a severe flu season, which is about 50% more than usual.

“Setting up this flu line helps alleviate some of that burden,” Meller said. “We’re seeing the providers are getting swamped dealing with these respiratory illnesses circulating on top of their other duties.”

The flu call in line (608.775.0364) has info on symptoms, treatment and testing, among other things and gives callers the option to speak to a live person.

The flu hotline isn’t meant to replace humans from the diagnostic process entirely. Meller says call the info line if you have basic questions about influenza or call one of their nurse advisors if you think you might actually have the flu.

Gundersen also launched a website to help answer questions at GUNDERSENHEALTH.org/flu

La Crosse County has seen 42 hospitalized with the flu, which is up from 26 for the entire 2016-17 season.

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