Influx of flu patients crowds area hospitals
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Health officials in El Paso say this is the worst year for swine flu infections since it first attacked the country in 2009.
Area hospitals say in the last couple weeks, the increase in people sick with the flu this season is filling up beds and emergency rooms much quicker than expected.
In some cases, some of those patients had to be kept waiting in the emergency room because there weren't enough beds available for them right away.
Just last week, University Medical Center treated almost a hundred people for the flu, 76 of which were hospitalized.
UMC says so far, they haven't yet had to turn anybody away.
Meanwhile, Las Palmas Medical Center tells a similar tale.
They've seen an influx in the number of flu patients coming through the emergency room, as well. While they say they've been able to handle the rush, it has taken a toll on their staff.
"The last time we saw this type of an increase was with the H1N1, and we had a drastic spike in our emergency rooms. This year, that spike is starting to increase very gradually, but it's definitely more than the normal winter season we see," said Jennifer Castañeda, RN, BSN, CLNC at Las Palmas Emergency.
According to the CDC, the flu and the cold share common symptoms so before rushing to the hospital, health experts say you should try and figure out which you may have.
They say symptoms like fever, body aches, and a dry cough are much more intense when you have the flu.
Several hospitals in the Borderland have told NewsChannel 9 there is not a shortage of antivirals to treat the flu if you do get it, or of vaccines - that's why health officials say prevention is the best way to protect yourself and urge you to get vaccinated.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm