United Regional, walk-in clinics plan for flu outbreak

Texas tops the nation for positive flu cases and that has United Regional Hospital and area clinics making space for patients in need.

As of Tuesday night, the hospital reached level 5, which is an indication United Regional was reaching full capacity. On Wednesday, the hospital capacity later dropped to a level 2.

In the event that the hospital beds fill up again, a plan is in place that will help United Regional find space for patients at other area hospitals.

"Not only are we seeing greater numbers, we're seeing greater numbers of people who need to be hospitalized as a result of their illness," URHCS senior vice president of operations Nancy Townsley said.

Due to the growing numbers, United Regional has teamed up with Kell West Regional Hospital and Electra Memorial Hospital to take on some of the overflow of patients.

"There may be longer waits but we do have a plan in place from a community-wide perspective to be able to care for people," Townsley said.

If you have chest pains, vomiting, difficulty breathing, a severe cough or high fever, Townsley suggests you should visit an emergency room. She also encourages, if possible, going to other medical venues around town.

"There are walk-in clinics in the community," Townsley said. "There are other places that are perfectly capable of taking care of this type of illness."

"Per day, we're seeing probably anywhere from five to six patients positive for the flu," family nurse practitioner Jana Veith said. "If not more than that."

Veith has been serving patents at Community-Med Urgent Care and says they've been diagnosing severe cases of the flu for the last month.

"Everything that's coming in pretty much is having a secondary infection with the flu," Veith said. "Like sinusitis,. pneumonia, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, even strep."

If you don't have a primary care provider, Townsley and Veith suggest you seek out urgent care services.

"We're a quick and easy trip, especially if you can't get in to see your primary care," Veith said. "Some people can get in the same day."

"We worked together as a community to try to make sure that we have the most appropriate care and that we can care for everyone that needs care," Townsley said.

Townsley suggests if you haven't already, to get vaccinated. She says people who have had a flu shot are able to recover quickly.

In December, there where more than 300 positive flu cases, a change from 11 cases in November. A year ago, there were just about 30 confirmed cases in the month of December.

The numbers for January have not been released.


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