Spike in flu season leaves East Texas hospitals packed, on medical divert

East Texas hospitals are on medical divert (Source: KLTV)
East Texas hospitals are on medical divert (Source: KLTV)
Updated: Jan. 2, 2018 at 6:56 PM CST
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Influenza isn't going away anytime soon, and it's leading to more East Texans seeking help in doctor's offices and emergency rooms.

"So flu is what's keeping our hospitals full right now," UT Health Northeast Doctor David Shafer said.

UT Health Northeast officials say most, if not all, of the hospitals in the area are on medical divert, meaning they are unable to promptly treat additional patients.

"We're seeing very severe cases and I think one of the best indices of that is hospitals are full," he said. "In fact, some of them are not able to take additional patients because every bed in the hospital is full due to people with complications of the flu."

Doctor Jordan Smith at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances said medical divert this time of the year is normal and doesn't affect how patients are cared for in the emergency room.

"There have been some hospitals that have been going on diversion," he said. " I know that our hospital has been full the last week or so, but we're still getting people seen."

Rebecca Berkley, ETMC Director of public relations said ETMC Tyler as well as other East Texas hospitals have been on and off medical divert the past week because of the high number of patients seeking treatment for illnesses such as the flu.

"What this means is that ambulances are alternated between the two major Tyler hospitals, but walk-ins are still taken," she said. "Wait times are long in the emergency department. In the past week, ETMC Tyler has had 236 positive flu cases. Other options to consider if you are sick are ETMC South Broadway, ED or Urgent care centers, and seeing your primary care physician."

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