NEW YORK ( WPIX) -- An assistant principal at a Queens public school, who came down with a severe case of swine flu, is clinging to life at a local hospital.
Doctors say Mitchell Wiener, 55, a 31-year veteran teacher at IS 238 in Hollis, is breathing only with the help of a ventilator. He was admitted to Flushing Hospital Wednesday morning and has since slipped into a deep coma, leaving him in critical condition.
Wiener was reportedly diagnosed with gout a year and a half ago which doctors say may have worsened his case of the H1N1 virus.
Family members are blaming city officials, whom they claim moved too slow in closing the school. Wiener's wife, Bonnie, told the NY Daily News that her husband wanted the school shut down last week, after an unusually large number of students came to the nurse's office complaining of flu-like symptoms. But instead, Bonnie claims the city Health Department "chastised him and told him he was going to start a panic."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city's actions Friday, while Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden acknowledged the fact the city was aware of swine flu cases at the school before classes resumed Monday.
Meantime, on Friday three more schools were ordered to be shut down for a week because of swine flu fears--JHS 74 in Bayside, PS 107 in Flushing and I-S 318 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Two other city schools - IS 5 in Elmhurst and Public School 16 in Corona - were ordered to shut down Thursday because of a rash of sicknesses and absences.
Bloomberg said the latest cases of the flu appear to be generally mild and currently there are no plans to close additional schools. He did add, however, that officials will closely be monitoring the situation.