Influenza Contributes to Longer Wait Times in Local ERs

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STATELINE (WIFR) -- No one wants to make a trip to the emergency room, especially this time of year, because you might be there a while.

Health care providers say this flu season has been earlier and more widespread than expected, and since many primary care doctors aren't in the office over the holidays, patients wind up in the ER to get some relief, in some case setting records for local clinics.

“We are the place that's open 24/7 so everyone has a place to go if they’re getting sick,” says Dr. Amit Bakshi, an emergency room physician at SwedishAmerican Hospital. “Flu this year seems to have particularly nasty, even with folks who don’t get sick that much.”

Bakshi estimates, patients had to wait two or more hours to see a doctor on Wednesday because they have nowhere else to turn. It was a similar story across town at the Prompt Care at Rock Cut Crossing. The number of patients there on Wednesday broke records. Staff from other areas of the clinic was brought in to move people through faster. The majority of those patients walked in with some sort of upper respiratory illness.

“Influenza can be mild and that can be taken care of at home, but if a person is feeling very ill, if they have a high fever, especially if it’s a small child or elderly person, they need to come into be assessed because influenza can lead to more severe illnesses,” says Diane Valentine, a nurse and the site manager of the Prompt Care at Rock Cut Crossing.

Doctors say, use your best judgment when decided whether to go the ER. If you think you need to see a doctor right away, go, but keep in mind, you may not be the only one there so you might be waiting a little longer than expected.

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