With the flu widespread here in
Connecticut, hospitals and their emergency rooms across the state are being
stretched thin, with an increase in patients leading to longer wait times.
The chairman of emergency medicine
here at Middlesex Hospital told Eyewitness News that he's been in medicine for
27 years, and when it comes to the flu, he's never seen it this severe.
"We're seeing about a 25-30
percent increase in visits to the emergency department," said Dr. Michael
Saxe, who heads up emergency medicine at Middlesex Hospital. "In addition,
patients are a lot sicker than normal."
More patients filling the ER are
leading to longer wait times for patients. Saxe said they've brought in extra
nurses and doctors trying to keep up with the surge.
The hospital has a website, which
let patients keep tabs on how long they just might wait. Typically, the wait is
around 30 minutes, but since Christmas it has gone up.
"Usually we're pretty
successful in doing that," Saxe said. "These days, we're shooting for
under an hour on the busy days."
The hospital is also requiring all
visitors to wear masks.
At Saint Francis Hospital in
Hartford, signs in their ER remind patients to cover their coughs. Saint Francis
Hospital has also seen an increase number of patients coming to the ER for flu.
"What we try to do is get
everyone in as quickly as possible. We certainly don't want people to wait for
hours," said Dr. Steven Wolf of Saint Francis Hospital. "We've had a
huge amount of patients requiring admission."
Requiring admission is helping clog
up the ERs in Connecticut and across the country. However, sometimes the volume
of patients overwhelms the resources at the hospital.
"We've had staff members who
have gotten sick as well. We have to back fill, and that's what hospitals are
struggling with," Wolf said. "Staff gets sick, too, and we still have
to increase capacity on top of that. So it's been a struggle for
Doctors are advising Connecticut
residents to get a flu shot, which will help them avoid waiting in long lines
at the hospital.
But, doctors said there are other
steps you can take to avoid the long lines, such as washing your hands
frequently and avoiding contact with anyone that's sick.
And if someone gets sick, they are
being told to sleep and drink a lot of fluids.
Both Wolf and Saxe said if you
haven't gotten a flu shot yet, you still can and you should. As for this rush
of flu cases, they expect it to last probably another few months.
The governor's office said the state
has seen a sharp increase in flu activity in Connecticut and advised residents
to get vaccinated.
According to the Connecticut
Department of Public Health, there are 1,680 reported cases of influenza. The
following is the breakdown by Connecticut counties:
New Haven - 453
Fairfield - 451
Hartford - 308
Windham - 151
Middlesex - 119
New London - 85
Litchfield - 62
Tolland - 49
The Connecticut Department of Public
Health said the reported number of cases is higher than the previous two flu
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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