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Swine Flu Outbreak Cover-Up at PWCPS?

By Greg L | 15 June 2009 | Prince William County | 27 Comments

Developing…

One parent of a Stonewall Middle School student just had their child diagnosed with Swine Flu, and reported to me that when she contacted the school nurse to report the infection, the school nurse denied that it was a case of Swine Flu despite a physician’s diagnosis, and demanded that she be able to speak with the doctor to convince him he was wrong.  Another report, so far unconfirmed, is that there are at least four unreported cases of Swine Flu at Stonewall Jackson High School.

This is utterly ridiculous.

Stay tuned for updates…

Updates below the fold…

UPDATE: PWCS released the following information a day after this broke:
June 16, 2009

Dear Prince William County Public School Community:

We are approaching the end of another exciting school year and I thank everyone for making it a successful one. I offer my special congratulations to all of our graduates who recently culminated their education in Prince William County Public Schools. Their success reaffirms that our children are receiving a World-Class Education.

I also want to reassure you that—in addition to providing a World-Class Education—we also have healthy and safe schools. As you already know, last week we had our first case of the H1N1 Virus, otherwise known as “Swine Flu.” Today, the Prince William Health District (PWHD) informed us of several other confirmed cases in schools from around the county. Currently, we have 11 total confirmed cases; two at Stonewall Jackson High School, five at West Gate Elementary School, and one each at Sinclair Elementary School, Stonewall Middle School, Mullen Elementary School, and Tyler Elementary School. Each is at home recovering.

It is now clear that this virus is circulating in the community, and this count only represents those individuals who have undergone testing. The PWHD has informed us that, from now on, not all individuals having flu-like symptoms will be tested, making it impossible to know the exact number of cases. However, as we receive information from the PWHD regarding our schools, it will be posted to our Web site.

Please remember that health officials are saying the severity of the H1N1 virus does not appear to be any more severe than seasonal flu. Therefore, there is no need for alarm, but I do want to take this opportunity to remind you to keep children home if they exhibit a flu-like illness for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms or 24 hours after the symptoms are resolved if they are still symptomatic at seven days.

All of our schools will remain open tomorrow, the last day of school, a decision supported by the general guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is not advising that schools dismiss for suspected or confirmed cases of H1N1 flu. In accordance with established guidelines, Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) has been in frequent contact with local and state health officials. We continue to closely monitor the situation and are utilizing the guidance of the PWHD, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the CDC. Rest assured that we continue to take all the appropriate measures to ensure the health of all of our students and staff.

We do ask that you please continue to monitor your children for any of the symptoms of influenza, which include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea. Please continue to be diligent about this after school is dismissed for summer vacation, especially if your child will be participating in summer school, summer camps, or other activities with groups of children. If your child is experiencing any symptoms which you are concerned about, please contact your child’s healthcare provider.

This letter, once again, provides me with a good opportunity to remind everyone of the simple steps that you can take to keep your family healthy. These include:

* Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Clean hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
* Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
* Stay home when you are sick.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
* Avoid close contact with those who have symptoms of flu; and
* If you need to seek care for you or your child, please call ahead to your health care provider’s office and tell them what symptoms you have, so they can see you quickly and prevent exposing other people in the waiting room.

The health and safety of our students and staff continues to be of the utmost importance, even beyond the school year. Please refer to the PWCS Web site or the VDH Web site for the most up-to-date information and for helpful resources regarding the H1N1 Virus.

Thank you again for your attention to this important matter. Have a great summer.

Sincerely,

Steven L. Walts,

Superintendent of Schools

And this went out the night before the last scheduled day of school.  I really have to wonder how long this information has been known.



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27 Comments

  1. Anonymous said on 15 Jun 2009 at 11:46 am:
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    School will be out in a very few days so the subject is moot.

  2. KFD said on 15 Jun 2009 at 12:09 pm:
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    School will be out, but it’s never good policy for school nurses to pretend to know better than a doctor what illness a child has.

  3. Former Officer said on 15 Jun 2009 at 2:06 pm:
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    Maybe he really didn’t have swine flu. Doctors are wrong fairly often.

  4. Brian Leeper said on 15 Jun 2009 at 2:35 pm:
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    How would the nurse know that? Is the nurse qualified to render a diagnosis?

    Answers: He/she doesn’t. He/she isn’t. In that order.

  5. Emma said on 15 Jun 2009 at 4:36 pm:
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    There has to be more to this story. Did the doctor actually run a rapid-flu test or other diagnostics, or did he/she say, “Yup, looks like swine flu”?

    If no tests were actually run, the nurse has no reason to automatically assume it’s swine flu..

  6. KFD said on 15 Jun 2009 at 5:58 pm:
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    Emma, The nurse was automatically assuming it was not swine flu. She was accusing the doctor of making an incorrect diagnosis. I don’t know this story, but I would assume that the nurse would not have access to the reasons for the doctors diagnosis as doctors do not owe an explanation of findings or methods to a school nurse.

  7. Emma said on 15 Jun 2009 at 6:23 pm:
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    I don’t know any more about the story than you do. But since I am actually a nurse, I would imagine that she very likely asked the parent about the child’s diagnosis and treatment. We’re trained to ask those kinds of questions. Something here just isn’t adding up. Believe it or no, there are
    many doctors who are lazy enough not to bother with testing, believing they have been endowed with natural diagnostic gifts. It would be nice to get more info before assuming the nurse doesn’t care enough about her young charges that she would deliberately cover up and put them at risk. Doctors aren’t God.

  8. KFD said on 15 Jun 2009 at 9:12 pm:
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    I can’t speak for the others who posted, but I don’t assume she was a part of an evil plot to cover up or to ignore the best interests of the kids, but I do find it out of the realm of reason that she would question the doctor’s diagnosis. Hopefully we will learn more on this story.
    Are you a nurse in our schools? If so, thank you for working with our kids! And…it doesn’t surprise me that school nurses are trained to question parents and doctors. The administrative aspects of school nursing and associated policy are as unbelievable as many other areas of administration in the public schools.

  9. The Patriot (Got E-Verify?) said on 16 Jun 2009 at 6:11 am:
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    “accusing the doctor of making an incorrect diagnosis”

    Okay. This is ridiculous! Nurses DO NOT DIAGNOSE - EVER!. Only Medical Doctors do this! If anyone should question the original doctor’s diagnosis, it should be another MEDICAL doctor.

  10. Truth to Power said on 16 Jun 2009 at 6:22 am:
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    Investigate who is cleaning the school after hours. You’ll find the source of the H1N1.

  11. me said on 16 Jun 2009 at 4:08 pm:
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    Here is the link to the most recent info. I just got an email to update me on the posting.

    http://www.pwcs.edu/absolutenewsmanager/templates/?a=1892&z=16

  12. Emma said on 16 Jun 2009 at 4:26 pm:
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    Not a very nurse-friendly vibe here, even though we don’t even know the whole story. Believe it or not, many nurses (myself included) have saved lives because we sometimes dare to question a doctor’s diagnosis. Ask yourself if you would prefer a nurse who “knows her place” or is willing to advocate for her patient if your loved one were hospitalized.

  13. Fran Kendrick said on 16 Jun 2009 at 5:17 pm:
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    Emma, kudos to all of our nurses! You often know as much or more
    than the doctors you work for.

  14. Emma said on 16 Jun 2009 at 5:34 pm:
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    Thank you, Fran.

  15. Benton said on 16 Jun 2009 at 6:12 pm:
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    Major ditto - I have often verified what a Dr told me with a nurse. The people closest to the process…….

  16. Pat.Herve said on 16 Jun 2009 at 6:29 pm:
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    so much for the coverup - http://www.pwcs.edu/absolutenewsmanager/templates/?a=1892&z=56

  17. Patty said on 16 Jun 2009 at 8:13 pm:
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    Pat.Herve

    This post/thread was dated June 15. Dr. Walts letter is dated today, June 16.

  18. Cheetah said on 17 Jun 2009 at 3:28 am:
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    11 total cases, seems like an epidemic to me…remove all the illegals and wonder if this would have occurred…..

  19. Love the U.S.A. said on 17 Jun 2009 at 4:32 am:
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    Patty, I noticed the same thing. Maybe it was Gregs blog that got them to put this information out there.

  20. Anonymous said on 17 Jun 2009 at 6:33 am:
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    I highly doubt the PWC school system reacted to this blog. Most likely they wanted to make sure they had all the facts before the released the information. The truth is, the regular flu has killed many more people than the swine flu so far, and it seems in reality it is no more severe than the regular flu. A lot of very distorted info being put out on this to try and scare people and just make lots of headlines. Do the schools put out info on the regular flu? No. Do lots of students get sick every year from the regular flu? Yes.

  21. they-all-stink-period said on 17 Jun 2009 at 10:11 am:
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    would you believe they would not excuse pregnant teachers from taking off from school because they are not allowed to. They would not disclose which kid had the flu in westgate except to the teacher of the child!

  22. they-all-stink-period said on 17 Jun 2009 at 10:13 am:
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    it was known on the 12th that swine flu was in westgate.

  23. they-all-stink-period said on 17 Jun 2009 at 10:14 am:
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    check email-freedom of information act. If you all need help, maybe the liberals can tell you how to do it.

  24. Anonymous said on 17 Jun 2009 at 10:25 am:
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    Anonymous said on 17 Jun 2009 at 6:33 am: Flag comment
    Do the schools put out info on the regular flu? No. Do lots of students get sick every year from the regular flu? Yes.

    Well, there is a great difference with this (swine) flu. It has been procaimed as Pandemic. This has not been done for many, many years with other strains of flu and is considered a high health threat.

  25. Emma said on 17 Jun 2009 at 4:17 pm:
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    They didn’t release pregnant teachers? How shocking. Regular seasonal flu claims over 36,000 American lives a year, and I’ve never heard of a blanket dismissal for pregnant teachers during flu season. A little perspective, please.

  26. Anonymous said on 26 Jun 2009 at 3:19 pm:
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    Swine flu hit my family this week. I relayed this information to some friends and I have found out that there are alot of people in the area who are experiencing or have recently experienced flu symptoms but either did not go to the dr.’s for testing or went to the dr.’s and the office refused to test them. I had to “shop” around to find the amount of Tamiflu that my family needed so that I could avoid running to more than one pharmacy. I was told by a couple of pharmacies that their supplies are low because of a recent demand for the drug. Because not everyone goes and gets tested and some offices are refusing to test, it would seem that the #’s reported by the CDC would be on the “low” side.

  27. Anonymous said on 9 Jul 2009 at 7:04 pm:
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    Here is the link to the most recent info. I just got an email to update me on the posting.

    http://www.pwcs.edu/absolutenewsmanager/templates/?a=1892&z=16

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