Augusta, GA (WJBF) –The number of flu cases in the United States continue to grow and our local hospitals are feeling the strain. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that is not reporting widespread flu activity. The agency reports that last week, the country experienced the highest percentage of people going to the doctor for flu-like symptoms since the 2003/2004 flu season.
Our local hospitals are feeling the brunt of those numbers. Both University Hospital and Augusta University tell NewsChannel 6 that their Emergency Departments are maxed out.
University Hospital is on EMS diversion meaning they are asking medics to avoid bringing ambulances to the ER if at all possible. Patients will still be brought to University Hospital if they request it. The same is true for dire emergency situations. However, this is a strong recommendation because the Emergency Department is functioning near full capacity.
Many people coming in and out of University Hospital on Wednesday had on medical masks to avoid giving or receiving the flu virus.
Mary Anne Nolan is the Director of Emergency Services at University Hospital. She says, “We’re seeing a lot of patients with cough, cold, nasal congestion, headache, achy, fever, just feeling terrible, run down.”
Nolan continues saying they are seeing lots of people with these flu-like symptoms, plus the conditions they see regularly like chest pain, shortness of breath, congestive heart failure and children with earaches.
“It’s very typical for ED. It’s just the flu on top of it all.” The combination is causing a challenge with crowding, Nolan points out.
There are plenty of options where you can get treated. If you are otherwise healthy, meaning no serious pre-existing conditions, you do not need to go to the emergency room for flu-like symptoms.
“We have also got Prompt Cares, Urgent Cares, physician practices are having emergency appointments available at many of the practices so that there are places you can go other than the emergency department. Of course, if you can’t get to any of those, the emergency department is here,” Nolan explains.
Nolan shared another alternative that University Hospital offers called ER Express. This allows you to go online, book an appointment, and start the waiting process from the comfort of your house.
“Rather than sitting in a waiting room somewhere with everybody else who are feeling poorly, you can wait at home,” Nolan explains.
University Hospital has this online check-in service at 8 centers across the CSRA—from Thomson to Aiken.
CLICK HERE to book now.