Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta spent about $200,000 to rent the Carolinas MED-1 mobile emergency room in a specialized tractor-trailer, for the overflow of flu patients. The Georgia Hospital Association says hospitals are “inundated” with patients, many of whom don’t have emergency symptoms. However, the flu has also killed 66 in Georgia this season. C.COM
Photo: ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJ
Photo: ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJ

Hospital ERs, swamped with flu: learn emergency symptoms

Hospitals, swamped with flu patients, are asking people to be prudent.

Some people need to be in the emergency room. But some just need a doctor or clinic, and others need home treatment.

A group representing Georgia hospitals on Monday tried to walk the line between encouraging people who need to go to the hospital to go, and cautioning people to check their symptoms for real emergency signs before they drive off to the emergency room.

“Those who do not have the flu, but go to the ER, risk catching it from those who do,” the Georgia Hospital Association said in a news release Monday. “However, anyone who is concerned about a serious or life-threatening illness should go to the ER.”

The state Department of Public Health has been receiving calls from hospitals that they’re inundated, a GHA spokeswoman said. People are crowding hospital ERs that don’t have the warning signs for ER treatment. The hospitals, in turn, are having to spend money and work staff more to deal with the influx.

Emergency warning signs for people to go to the ER include:

  • trouble breathing
  • chest pain
  • persistent vomiting
  • flulike symptoms that improve but return with fever and a worse cough

There is more information listed on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is, I don’t want to say panic, but extra concern out there this year,” said the spokeswoman, Erin Stewart. The flu has killed 66 Georgians so far this year and hospitalized more than 1,000. “Of course, always be safe. Go to the CDC website, assess your symptoms.”

If people are unsure whether they need more care, they can contact their doctor or a clinic.

“Hospitals are working diligently to make sure each patient receives timely and efficient care,” GHA President Earl Rogers said.

READ MORE: 8 Things You May Need to Know About 2018 Flu Season

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