Hospitals in South Bend area sold out due to severe flu season, emergency room waiting up to 8 hours

The flu season is reaching Michiana in the region, with emergency rooms crammed with patients.

The emergency room department of Elkhart General Hospital has been very busy due to the flu season, with patients waiting "two to eight" hours, "said Dawn Wilkins, an infection prevention for the hospital. nurses have had to work overtime to attend to the large volume of patients, and additional beds have been used.

"We have been … at maximum capacity several times during the past two weeks," he said. Very busy flu. "

Heidi Prescott, a hospital spokeswoman, said the average waiting time in the department is closer to two hours.

Wilkins said the hospital advises people with symptoms similar to the flu to seek treatment, if possible, from primary care physicians and outpatient clinics instead of the hospital emergency room.

"People should not simply go to the emergency room with fever, cough or cold, "said Wilkins. "When these symptoms appear, it is when we become obstructed, preventing people with more serious illness from receiving the care they desperately need."

In some cases, Wilkins said, people who do not have the underlying diseases can fight the flu themselves with over-the-counter medications. But serious cases of flu, which can end in death, should be taken seriously.

Since the flu season began in mid-December, Wilkins said, the number of patients treated for flu-like symptoms in the hospital has steadily increased, reaching the highest levels earlier this month.

For the week ending January 6, the average emergency room visit rate for people who reported flu-like symptoms was 8.3 percent and there were 101 confirmed cases of flu. During the same week last year at the Elkhart hospital, there were only four confirmed cases of flu.

Trafficking in people with flu-like symptoms also increased during the week ending January 6 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where there were 104 confirmed cases of flu and the average rate of visits to the emergency room. with the flu was 3.6 percent.

Lakeland Hospital in Niles, meanwhile, reported that it had 70 confirmed cases of flu last week, the maximum this season.