Thankfully, the flu season has yet to come calling here in Patrick County. However, for those who end up hosting this unwelcome guest, two area providers can provide testing and, in some cases, treatment.
Patrick County Family Practice on Rt. 58 offers walk-in hours during which patients can come for flu and strep-throat screening and treatment. Office manager Debbie Nowlin recommends walk-ins come from 8-11 a.m. and 1:30-4 p.m., with the best times being 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. On Mondays and Thursdays, PCFP is open until 8 p.m.
Nowlin said that for certain patient populations—such as children and seniors—providers may prescribe flu treatment medications, but that varies by patient. Strep however, needs to be treated with antibiotics.
“We’ve seen a lot of strep throat because of the weather, where it was cool and then hot again,” she said. “We haven’t seen the flu yet, but hand-washing is a major thing [for prevention].”
The area’s other provider, Pioneer Family Medical of Stuart, located behind the hospital at 835 Woodland Drive, offers morning and afternoon hours for patients who need to be seen the same day. Sindy Fain, office coordinator, encourages patients to call first for availability.
Starting Dec. 5 with the arrival of new family practice physician Frank Falbo, Pioneer Family Medical will offer extended hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Also, Pioneer Community Hospital Lab offers a service called Direct Access Testing through which residents can pay $20 for a Flu A/B screening. Should one suspect the culprit is strep throat, Pioneer offers a rapid strep test also for $20. No appointment or physician referral is necessary, and results are available in about 20 minutes.
Pioneer Lab does not provide treatment or test-result interpretation. However, the test results may be taken to a health-care provider should the patient need, for example, antibiotics to clear up strep throat.
Pioneer Community Hospital Direct Access Testing is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but area residents may call (276) 694-3151 regarding extended and weekend hours. A wide range of tests are available, from glucose and cholesterol levels to drug-screening and pregnancy (visit www.pchpatrick.com).
While strep throat and flu symptoms may overlap, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that signs of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle ache, headache, fatigue, and vomiting or diarrhea. Those with the flu can infect others one or more days before symptoms develop, and up to seven days after becoming sick.
Flu prevention measures include flu shots, staying away from infected individuals, covering coughs and sneezes with the crook of the arm or a disposable tissue, and hand-washing. The CDC recommends that patients who can be treated with anti-viral flu medications do so within 48 hours of getting sick.
– Angela H. Hill