40 Suspected H1N1 Cases at Rose Hill; None at Lincoln Center


Published: October 8, 2009

Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) has yet to confirm a single case of the H1N1 virus, while the Rose Hill health center has seen about 40 students with influenza-like symptoms, according to Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC and a member of the Emergency Management Team.

FCLC has taken measures to prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus by installing instant hand sanitizer gel dispensers. (Photo Illustration by Angelica Garza / The Observer)

Eldredge warns that the most recent numbers are subjective and largely assumed.

“It’s hard to nail down a number… there isn’t a test right now for H1N1 [and] the current flu test has a high percentage of false positives,” Eldredge said. The rapid diagnostic test, the quick result influenza indicator offered in hospitals and clinics, tests only for influenza A or B but don’t necessarily distinguish between the two, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site. Influenza A and the H1N1 virus are similar in structure and symptoms, but it’s unusual for a student to have influenza A in the early fall, while H1N1 isn’t diminished in warmer weather. Health centers on both campuses are assuming that a positive result on the rapid diagnostic test is an indication of the H1N1 virus and treating the students as such.

Ian Gaylets, CBA ’10, was one of those sick students to face a positive diagnosis of the H1N1 virus. After experiencing a day of what Gaylets called normal flu symptoms, like nausea, coughing and fatigue, he went to the health center.

“[Fordham] told us… if you get sick, you should go to the health center. And my mom is a nurse, she was like, if you get sick, you should get help,” Gaylets said. “[The people in the health center] were really good to me, they were nice.” Despite pleasantries, Gaylets still had the flu and was told he would need to be quarantined.

“They were well prepared in the health center. They had a system in place. It didn’t continue at the quarantine room,” Gaylets said. Having heard rumors of sick students not being allowed back to their rooms after being diagnosed, he had prepared a bag of his belongings since he knew that he most likely had the flu. After he was diagnosed, he was told he wouldn’t be allowed back to his room and asked if he had family close by. Gaylets called his parents, almost three hours away in his hometown of Scranton, Penn., to pick him up. He would have to wait in isolation until his parents got off of work.

“Security came to pick me up.  The guard and I both were wearing masks. Driving through campus, people were looking at me,” said Gaylets. After arriving to the isolation area, an apartment in Martyr’s Court, Gaylets was greeted by Amy Harper, the area coordinator for integrated learning communities at Rose Hill, wearing gloves and a mask. According to Gaylets, she left quickly, after she let him into the apartment.

“I went looking for water… they told me to stay hydrated. I had a fever, and there wasn’t water or Tylenol,” Gaylets said. He called the Residential Life office from his cell phone, where he says the person who answered laughed at him before confirming that she would put an order in. Approximately 20 minutes later, someone from the Residential Life office brought him two bottles of water, a clean pillow and some towels, but no medicine. The messenger told Gaylets that they couldn’t find any Tylenol, but shortly after he left, the health center brought him Tamiflu.

“I was told by [Christopher Rodgers, dean of students at Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH)] that the room was prepared, but that someone must’ve walked with the stuff.  I don’t understand. Did the person before me load up all the bottled water, pillows, towels, the waste basket and medicine, and say, I’m taking all of this with me?” Gaylets said. “I really just wanted a ‘We’re sorry, we should’ve checked the room.’”

Rodgers was unavailable for comment.

“It just concerned me that a freshman that might’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, who hasn’t made friends and doesn’t know that much, might’ve just laid there without water and medicine. They wouldn’t know who to call,” Gaylets said. “It’s a very scary thing, when you’re sick or in pain, the last thing you want is to be left alone in a room staring at the ceiling without water or medicine.”

“I don’t know what happened in that apartment at Rose Hill, what was there, what was supposed to be there, but what I want to take away that we’re probably going to make some mistakes if and when we have to implement this,” Eldredge said, when asked about Gaylets’s situation. “We need to make sure we’re going to be as clear as possible with the students and say, okay, here’s what’s happening. This is why we’re asking you to stay here, whether it’s for a few days or a few hours. These are the things we’re going to provide for you; do you need something else? If something comes up, this is who you can call.”

Kathleen Malara, director of health services, said that isolation will only be used at FCLC if the cases of H1N1 reach large numbers. There is an empty law student apartment available if quarantine becomes necessary.

“Since the rooms are apartment-style [at FCLC], the student will be instructed to stay in their room,” Malara said. “If they use the common area, wear a mask and clean, clean, clean the bathrooms.”

If a student suspects that he or she has the flu, Eldredge said, “Tell somebody you have the flu. Go to the RA, go to the health center. Contact your class dean and your professors.”

If a FCLC student needs to go the health center and the on campus facility is closed, the security supervisor can help arrange transportation to Rose Hill for the sick student.

Sick students are encouraged to go home, if they live close enough, to minimize on-campus exposure. The Emergency Management Team has plans for providing linens, as well as arrangements with Sodexo to help prepare food for a student who would probably be used to preparing his or her own food, instead of using a meal plan like a FCRH student, according to Eldredge.

Eldredge recommends contacting security or the resident director if a student becomes sick, and the health center is closed.

“We’re exploring options on a case-by-case basis, but it’s a balance of taking care of the sick person and protecting the health of their roommates,” Eldredge said.