FLU OUTBREAK: Metro ER’s are Filling Up

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This flu season could be one for the record books. Metro clinics and hospitals report double the number of people who came in during the 2009 flu season- the year we experienced the H1N1 epidemic.

Emergency rooms are packed, and some of those visits turn into stays at the hospital. The waiting rooms at Mercy and Iowa health have been full. Each day, six to ten of those people are being admitted.

“Any gathering of people offers a greater opportunity for transmission of disease. So at the top of the list is if you are sick, stay home. while you might think your organization or job place is stressed if you are not there, what invariably happens is you go in and two or three people drop out the next couple days,” said Dr. Daniel Gervich, with Mercy Medical Center.

To contain the spread of germs, there are new visitor restrictions to Methodist, Lutheran, Blank, and Mercy Hospitals in Des Moines. Only two visitors are allowed at a time, per room, and those visitors must be older than 17.

The hospitals are asking patients who think they have the flu and need treatment to visit urgent care facilities or walk-in clinics instead of going to the emergency room.

Mercy hospital is also working on adding bed space. Mercy officials say their staff members are working more hours and shifts than usual, so they are keeping a close eye on their doctors to prevent them from getting over-worked.