Baptist Hospital System says its facilities are being inundated due to a flu outbreak. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Alabama's hospitals are being inundated by flu cases, officials warn, prompting Gov. Kay Ivey to declare that a 'State Public Health Emergency' now exists.
Ivey's emergency declaration includes a directive to the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to seek federal assistance as needed. It also allows health care facilities that have invoked their emergency operation plans to implement their "alternative standard of care" plans to combat the outbreak. A copy of her full proclamation is included below.
Thursday, Baptist Health System issued a flu alert advisory, warning the community that area hospitals are seeing a "significant surge in flu and other respiratory illness patients" and that emergency departments "have reached maximum capacity."
Merrill South, the public relations manager for Baptist Health in Montgomery, said wait times have increased for non-emergency care and urged those with flu-like symptoms without signs of serious illness to first see their medical doctor or an urgent care facility before coming to an emergency room.
Baptist is asking people who have flu-like symptoms not to visit patients at the hospitals, while officials at Montgomery's Jackson Hospital are implementing a ban on sick visitors.
In the Birmingham area, WBRC reports UAB Hospital has decided to reschedule non-urgent elective surgeries that require hospitalization in order to alleviate some overcrowding. Urgent and same-day surgeries are ongoing.
Normal Flu Symptoms Fever Cough Sore Throat Runny/stuffy nose Muscle or body aches Headaches Fatigue (tiredness) Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention For the Following Emergency Warning Signs of Flu Sickness In children and elderly • Fast breathing or trouble breathing • Bluish skin color • Not drinking enough fluids • Not waking up or not interacting • (In children) Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough • (In children) Fever with a rash In adults • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen • Sudden dizziness • Confusion • Severe or persistent vomiting • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs: • Being unable to eat • Has trouble breathing • Has no tears when crying • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
Although the swine flu vaccine is widely available, the state health department says the highest number of confirmed cases are among young adults. However, it appears that those between 18 and 24 are the least likely to be vaccinated.More >>