ASHTABULA — Kent State University-Ashtabula will convene a public forum on H1N1 flu, originally known as swine flu, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the Main Hall Auditorium.

Health care professionals from Ashtabula County will provide the public with information about the flu virus.

The panelists include: Cynthia Callahan, R.N., infection control preventionist, Ashtabula County Medical Center; Renee Palagyi, R.N., executive director, Ashtabula County-American Red Cross; Christine Kettunen, Ph.D., R.N., director of Nursing, Ashtabula County Health Department; Ruth Simon, MSN, nurse practitioner with the Ashtabula Clinic; and Marie Lipscomb, R.N., infection control practitioner, University Hospitals-Geneva Medical Center.

KSUA representatives include: Carol Drennen, MSN, senior program director, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; and Susan Stocker, Ph.D., R.N., KSUA’s dean.

Stocker said: “Much of what we hear about H1N1 has been at the national level. This forum will give the community the opportunity to learn what is being done at the local level and to have their questions answered by a panel of experts on the topic. By partnering with local health professionals, Kent State at Ashtabula can facilitate a multi-institution conversation for the community. We want to allay concerns people may have, provide information to help them guard against the virus, and assure them that the professional health care facilities and agencies are actively preparing for H1N1, as well as the seasonal flu.”

Various topics will include understanding the symptoms, understanding who is most at risk, learning how vaccines will be made available and the current status of cases in Ashtabula County. The panelists will take questions from the audience.

According to the Centers for Disease Control ‘s Web site, 2009 H1N1 (aka “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus that infects the human upper-respiratory tract. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009 and is spreading person to person worldwide, in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

The event will be recorded and broadcast on the university’s cable TV channel. The broadcast schedule will be available in November at the university’s Web site (www.ashtabula.kent.edu) and on Time Warner Channel 29 in Ashtabula, and Channel 21 Geneva/ Madison.

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