A severe flu season is prompting hospitals in the Chicago area to turn away patients. In a situation that is being described as “chaotic,” hospitals such as Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago are on bypass status. Ambulances are being rerouted and walk-in patients may have to wait up to three hours or more to receive treatment.
While most patients are eventually discharged to continue their treatment at home, most of them will have to spend quite some time in the emergency room before that happens.
Infection control manager at Edward Hospital, Mary Anderson, has stated that during a normal flu season the facility confirms around 200 cases of the flu. As of last week they have already seen over 260 cases.
According to a report by Fox News, this season’s flu is especially severe for the state of Illinois:
“Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said almost 150 people have been admitted to intensive care units with the flu this season and five have died. Forty-one states across the country are seeing an outbreak of the flu, and Illinois is among the hardest hit.”
This flu season is hitting hard across the entire nation. according to a report by USA Today, as of the last week in 2012 18 children have died due to complications associated with the flu. 2,257 had been hospitalized.
Although patients in the Chicago area are being turned away from emergency rooms, they have alternative options. Patients who recognize flu symptoms early can make an appointment with their doctor. There is a prescription drug available for early treatment called Tamiflu.