January 8, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — The flu outbreak in the Chicago area seems to be getting worse with some hospitals telling ambulances to take patients elsewhere.
Tuesday morning, at least three Chicago-area hospitals remained on bypass. Northwestern Memorial, University of Chicago and Swedish Covenant were asking ambulances to pass them by, if they could do so safely, because so many people are flooding into their emergency rooms with the flu.
“It can get very busy at any hospital in the winter — especially if there’s a lot of influenza because of that problem,” said Dr. Robert Feldman, Cook County Hospital.
NEW ULM, Minn. (WCCO) – The southern part of the state is described as the epicenter of the flu outbreak this year.
Later this week, hospitals and clinics will announce visitor restrictions to help stop the spread, and some have already taking action in hit hard areas like Mankato and New Ulm.
Dr. Joan Krikava, medical director at New Ulm Medical Center, says the numbers are staggering. They’re seeing more people with the flu now than they did at the height of the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
“We are seeing 50 to 100 extra patients in our clinics and hospitals. That’s about double the number of patients we see in a day. And in our hospital half of our patients have influenza,” Krikava said.
It’s the most miserable time of the year for many people in the area. Flu season is in full effect and this one in particular is shaping up to be more extreme than usual.
The State Department of Health reports that four Pennsylvanians have already died of complications from the influenza virus.
In response to the early start of flu season, the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest had to open an emergency space to care for the increased number of people with flu-like symptoms.