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Crossville doctor thinks schools should close for H1N1 flu

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  • Crossville doctor thinks schools should close for H1N1 flu

    Crossville doctor thinks schools should close for H1N1 flu
    Posted: Oct 06, 2009 9:49 PM CDT
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    6 News Anchor/Reporter

    CROSSVILLE (WATE) -- Dr. Mohammad Koucheki's office usually opens at 7:30 a.m., but the office manager says when she arrived Tuesday morning before 7:00, every parking space was already full.

    "I've never seen this before. I've been in practice 30 years and I've never been in a situation like this before, with so many kids coming in with the flu and so sick," says Dr. Koucheki.

    He's seeing double the number of patients with swine flu right now that he usually sees during a normal flu season.

    "It gets so overcrowded and we don't want to mix the kids with the flu with the kids with other symptoms. So if a child has the flu, we just tell them stay in the car and then we call them on the cell phone," Dr. Koucheki says.

    Some patients wait in their cars for up to three hours. The sick and the well waiting rooms are full of sick kids these days.

    "We normally have maybe half and half and, right now, we have maybe one tenth healthy and the rest of them are sick," Dr. Koucheki says.

    He had to hospitalize seven patients with H1N1 just this week and believes the time has come to close schools and daycares, and try to slow the spread.

    "I think it would stop all these sick kids from going to school and mixing with the rest of them," he says.

    The waiting room is usually empty at 4:30 p.m., but the doctor has been staying until 7:30 p.m. trying to see every sick child he can so they won't overwhelm the emergency room.

    Cumberland County School officials said Tuesday they have no plans to close schools. Attendance Monday was 91 percent system-wide.

    Cleaning crews are hard at work each night, trying to disinfect surfaces with bleach before students return for the next day.

    Each classroom also has hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for students to use on lockers and door handles.

    "We try to wipe down all water fountains and anything else that a student can touch and transmit a virus or germ, we try to wipe it down at least once a day," says South Cumberland Elementary maintenance custodian John Selby.

    Cumberland County schools are encouraging parents to keep any student with flu-like symptoms at home.

    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela