Flu patients filling up hospitals in VA

Flu patients filling up hospitals in VA

NOTTOWAY, VA (WWBT) - The flu season is putting a big strain on Virginia hospitals. They're having a hard time keeping up with all the patients battling flu-like symptoms.

Nottoway County Emergency Squad called it a Code Red. VCU Medical Center had to help emergency rooms across the state by stepping in to coordinate where patients should go.

"I think we increased last month about 25 more calls than normal," says Harold Bloss with the Nottoway County Emergency Squad.

That's a big increase for the emergency crew, and they say the flu is to blame.

"The strain of flu this year is really incapacitating a lot of people," says Bloss. "They're drained and dehydrated."

The flu epidemic is overwhelming other local emergency rooms. Nottoway's squad put out an urgent message saying area hospitals are at total capacity.

"I heard that Farmville and South Hill Virginia was full. They couldn't take anymore," says Brenda Griffing, who lives in Crewe.

The weekly report from the Virginia Department of Health shows in northern and central Virginia, there has been an increase in the number of ER visits for flu-like symptoms.

The calls mean volunteers are working non-stop, which is not always easy if there are only two people on a shift.

"We could use more volunteers very much," says Bloss. "We'd like to have about 15 new volunteers."

In the meantime, the best way to keep the flu from spreading is prevention. Crews make sure the ambulance is thoroughly disinfected after each patient.

Other tips from doctors:

  • Wash your hands
  • Disinfect shared surfaces like toys and tabletops
  • Don't share drinking and eating utensils
  • Eat nutritious foods

The alert was called off Tuesday morning, but it could be called back on again if the hospitals become overwhelmed. That could happen, because it's only the middle of January.

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