Erie Shores HealthCare officials are warning of the possibility of an earlier-than-expected flu season in Leamington.

Staff and physicians in the emergency department have already seen a spike in patients presenting with flu-like symptoms and cardiac issues. Officials say usually the increase in patient volumes in seen in late October.

Staff is asking for the public’s help to reduce the spread of infection.

ESHC is working with the Local Health Integration Network and other hospitals in the region on surge preparedness, to ensure that there is capacity and flow throughout the system.

“Flu season brings challenges within the hospital as a result of the increased acuity and volumes – however, we are committed to working on internal processes to maintain flow and capacity to ensure the impact to our patients in minimal,” said VP of patient services and chief nursing executive Kristin Kennedy.

ESHC staff plan on stepping up prevention and monitoring during the peak of the season.

The Leamington hospital will also kick off its staff flu shot campaign over the coming weeks.

“While every flu season comes with its own challenges, and predicting how severe it will be is very difficult, we are certainly alarmed by what we’ve seen this year in Australia,” said chief of staff Dr. Ross Moncur.

Moncur says they will continue to treat every patient individually, but this will keep influenza top of mind and reinforces the need to make preparations.

“We all need to practice our best prevention strategies: get the flu shot, wash your hands, and stay home when you’re sick,” says Moncur.

On Oct. 4, the hospital will be launching Flu Prevention Fridays on social media to raise awareness.