Emergency rooms slammed with flu patients

Emergency rooms slammed with flu patients

PORTLAND, Ore. -- People suffering from the flu are flooding emergency rooms across the area and it’s been tough on hospitals.

It's been busy over the last week or two at Oregon Health and Science University. 

“We've been on zone management multiple times, at least four times in the last week because the ERs have been completely full,” said Dr. Jon Jui, Emergency Physician at OHSU.

Zone management is almost like air traffic control for ambulances. They're directed to different hospitals so one hospital isn't completely overloaded.

“That is basically almost like a crisis for our emergency departments in the area because it's really hard to treat patients when your entire ER is full,” said Jui.

The Oregon Health Authority's latest numbers show there wase almost double the number of hospitalizations due to the flu during the week ending on Saturday, Dec. 24 compared to the week before.

While Jui said this year the flu has arrived early and is peaking early, people who haven't received their flu shot, should still get one.

“The coverage of the vaccine is very, very good as well,” Jui said.

The vaccine typically takes a couple weeks to kick in. With more of the flu season ahead of us, Jui said it’s better late than never when it comes to getting the shot.

Washington and California have had flu-related deaths this year. Oregon has not.

Dr. Jui said while the flu is the main reason emergency rooms are so packed, mental health issues over the holidays as well as clinics that were closed for the holidays also contributed.

But are there longer wait times in emergency rooms?

Jui said people with life-threatening conditions will be seen right away. But waiting times could be longer for people dealing with non-life-threatening conditions.


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