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Local hospitals may have to divert patients with flu, respiratory symptoms due to high patient volumes

Local hospitals may have to divert patients with flu, respiratory symptoms due to high patient volumes
MGN-Online
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POSTED: Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 2:41pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 6:32pm

According to East Texas Medical Center, due to the high volume of patients entering the emergency room with upper respiratory symptoms, including the flu, they may be turned away and directed to other medical facilities.

Rebecca Berkeley with ETMC in Tyler, says ETMC Tyler is experiencing extremely high volumes of patients in the emergency department. Most of these patients have upper respiratory problems, which can include the flu, pneumonia, severe colds, etc., and many of them are so sick they are being admitted into the hospital.

"ETMC Tyler rarely goes on divert but recently both ETMC and Trinity Mother Frances have been on divert, which means both Tyler hospitals will balance the flow of patients between them based on patient request. Divert means the facility has exhausted their resources and must turn away patients being transferred or transported to their facility."

According to Dr. Paul McGaha with the Texas Department of Health, more people have been seriously ill than were reported last year.

The flu kills about 35,000 people a year and the H1N1 strain has already killed one in Nacogdoches and two in Gregg County.

"The flu is like sandpaper." said said Dr. William Moore, director of ETMC Regional EMS. "It's like somebody injected sandpaper through your veins. everything hurts. Everything is being irritated."

Experts say flu season in East Texas usually peaks at the end of January, but this year, flu season came a month early.

"I don't think that we had enough people getting immunized and the sudden onset of cold weather was a little bit unexpected," said Public Health Coordinator Russell Hopkins.

ETMC's seasonal flu patients tripled from the beginning of December to the end.

"The flu test is showing us it's going up," said Dr. Moore. "We haven't seen it turn the corner and go down, yet, so we can only project it will keep going up."

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