DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - During the past couple of weeks the inpatient volume at local hospitals has increased dramatically due to the flu or flu-like symptoms.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has issued a State Public Health Emergency as the number of flu cases rapidly grow.
The outbreak has already caused one Birmingham-area school to close due to a large number of students and teachers with the flu.
The increase is impacting bed capacity at both Flowers Hospital and Southeast Alabama Medical Center
A statement released by the Medical Center says:
In an effort to address this surge of patients and provide the safest care possible, SAMC has enacted our Patient Flow and High Census Plan. In collaboration with our admitting physicians, the following tactics have been implemented to free up additional beds for patients needing care:
1. When appropriate and with physician input, scheduled elective cases that typically result in inpatient admission are being rescheduled. Areas affected include surgery, heart and vascular and special procedures.
2. Multidisciplinary bed huddles are occurring every 4 hours where we are assessing bed availability and discussing any barriers to discharging patients appropriately.
Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Flowers Hospital, Darla Silevant, says she hasn’t seen this kind of influx since the "Swine-Flu Outbreak" in 2009.
The hospital describes their overflow as "every bed that is functioning in our hospital is occupied. And so now we're going to take our emergency room fast track and they'll become inpatient rooms.” Says Silavent.
“Which doesn’t change how we care for the patient, you know the nurse, the labs the radiology, it’s just the location of where it is, and it’s out of the norm.”
She says, “In 2009 there was the H1N1 and it didn’t make an influx like this has done. We had young people who were very sick, but not the volume, not the numbers. So even in 2009, when we did it would be short lived and this is not, this has been consistent and persistent.”
“So what we've done here at flowers hospital we’ve put out flu stations at certain entry points; the flu stations have your hand sanitizers, your Kleenexes’ and your masks and we really really encourage those to be used and then we encourage if you have influenza or flu like symptoms don’t come to the hospital unless it’s just absolutely necessary and protect yourself and then we'll all try to protect each other" said Darla Silavent.
Due to the limited bed space, hospital personnel are asking that if possible, to seek medical attention for the flu or flu like symptoms at an urgent care clinic or primary doctor as the chances of worsening your condition is less.