Story by Mike Nolting, MetroNews

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- Emergency departments (EDs) across WVU Medicine are recovering from a holiday surge in cases of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Dr. Christopher Goode, chair of WVU Medicine and Emergency Medicine, said RSV has been the leading respiratory ailment reported in this early surge.

“That, along with a very high positive rate of Influenza Type A, as well as still having a fair number of COVID-positive patients,” Dr. Goode said. “Our flu, RSV, and COVID season just started a little earlier.”

Goode said the availability of hospital beds is not threatened, like we saw during the pandemic, but the spike in infections has resulted in an increase. Dr. Goode said despite the surge, their staffing has been adequate to handle the season so far.

“When you think about it, some of our hospitals admit 30 to 40 people a day, and we’re used to them leaving every three to four days,” Dr. Goode said. “So, if they’re staying five days, it causes a little bit of a backlog, but nothing we can’t manage as a health system.”

All WVU Medicine facilities are open to patients, but using a primary care provider or an urgent care center is a good first option. Using other options preserves capacity for patients suffering from life-threatening medical conditions or injuries.

“If you don’t feel well, just stay home, drink plenty of fluids, and take some Motrin,” Dr. Goode said. “If you start to develop a cough or shortness of breath or you have comorbid medical conditions, that’s when we would want you to seek medical care.”

Telemedicine can offer many benefits for the person feeling mild to moderate symptoms while lessening the load at in-person facilities. The service is available for adults and children and offers an examination, a diagnosis, a care plan, and a prescription.

“They may need some cough medicine, maybe a steroid or an antibiotic, and that’s where telemedicine can help,” Dr. Goode said. “It can also help ease a person’s mind.”

Going back to the COVID hygiene protocols is still a go-to recommendation, according to Dr. Goode. Eating right, getting rest, and dressing appropriately for the weather conditions are also things we know to do, but we have to be reminded, Dr. Goode said.

“It’s really just washing your hands, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting plenty of rest,” Dr. Goode said. “For most people, if you get any of these viruses—the flu, COVID, or RSV—you’ll do just fine; you might feel bad for a few days.”