Flu patients leave Texas hospitals strapped

ELPASOPROUD | 1/12/2018 | Staff
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At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, waiting rooms turned into exam areas as a medical tent was built in order to deal with the surge of patients. A Houston doctor said local hospital beds were at capacity, telling flu sufferers they might be better off staying at home. Austin's emergency rooms have also seen an influx of flu patients.

But high emergency room volumes and filled hospital beds are "not uncommon" for this point during flu season, which runs from October to May, said Lara Anton of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Anton - Week - Season - Year - Impact

"We definitely know it's widespread," Anton said this week. "We have been at widespread for the past three weeks." But she added that it's too early in the season to know whether this year's flu impact is extraordinary.

On Monday alone, Parkland's emergency department had seen 930 patients — double what the hospital typically sees for people with flu symptoms by this time of year, Dr. Joseph Chang, associate chief medical officer for Parkland, told CBS11.

Town - Sunday - Methodist - Dallas - Medical

Across town on Sunday, Methodist Dallas Medical Center rerouted non-emergency ambulance patients to different area facilities in order to take care of “emergency patients like trauma, stroke, and sexual assault" due to the lack of bed availability from flu patients. The hospital said the move was consistent with state and federal laws, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The Houston and Austin areas are also seeing high volumes of patients. In Houston, area hospitals have filled up, including Texas Children’s Hospital, where a quarter of patients are being treated for the flu. Austin doctors have reported high volumes of patients in emergency rooms, and “the number of visits at health care systems, physician offices and urgent care centers over the past week has really exploded,” Dr. Ken Mitchell of St. David’s Healthcare told KXAN.

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