As RSV, flu, COVID cases surge, Meritus says its number of patients is more than pandemic surges

04 January 2024- Viral illnesses are surging in the community in the week after the holidays, and the staff at Meritus Health is seeing more cases of RSV, flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illness. In the first days of 2024, Meritus Medical Center experienced a higher patient census than was seen during COVID pandemic surges.

“Our dedicated teams are working so hard to make sure our community has the level of care needed,” said Meritus President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “We want to make sure our community is aware of the high transmission of viral illness and remind them to be vigilant – washing their hands and masking if experiencing symptoms of illness – like a fever or cough.”

Joshi said Meritus Medical Center was caring for more than 300 admitted patients on Jan. 3.

“What gets us through this time is our healthcare heroes and our community staying vigilant with masking and hand washing,” he said. “Our nurses, doctors and frontline workers are committed to taking care of this community and it shows each and every day. We pride ourselves to have open access in so many care settings.”

He said team members are also working to remind community members of the different levels of care to seek.

Those who are showing symptoms of viral illness – like chills, fever, headache, cough or vomiting – should consider their severity to make sure they are seeking the appropriate level of care.

Dr. Anand Budi, Meritus Chief Medical Officer, recommends plenty of fluids, over-the-counter medicine to control fever and lots of rest for patients experiencing viral illnesses. However, especially in children, you should seek medical help if you notice trouble breathing, have changes in appetite and a temperature over 102.5 degrees, he said.

Patients who are not experiencing a medical emergency can consider other options, including Meritus Urgent Care on Crayton Boulevard or Meritus After Hours Pediatrics on Eastern Boulevard, both in Hagerstown, or online through MeritusNow.

Urgent Care medical professionals treat everyday illnesses for patients of all ages from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, visit www.meritushealth.com/locations/meritus-urgent-care or call 240-313-3100.

After Hours Pediatrics is a walk-in care facility for children that is open after your primary care office is closed. The facility treats pediatric patients up to age 21 from 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.meritushealth.com/locations/meritus-after-hours-pediatrics or call 301-302-7837.

MeritusNow provides a virtual visit with a healthcare provider. To learn more or to schedule an online appointment, visit now.meritushealth.com.

The health system is strongly encouraging patients and visitors to mask at its facilities if they have symptoms of viral illness, including fever/chills, cough, runny nose/congestion, sore throat, muscle or body aches and vomiting and diarrhea.