Oct 12, 2009 10:58 PM by Abby Lane

Possible flu patients overwhelm local hospitals

Patients with flu-like symptoms are overwhelming local emergency rooms. Memorial and Penrose St. Francis in Colorado Springs and Pueblo's Parkview say they are seeing between 15 - 30% increases in the number of people visiting their emergency rooms and urgent cares.

 "You feel terrible," said Chris Valentine, spokesperson for Memorial Health System. "You feel like you've been hit by a truck."

Valentine says about 130 people are visiting Memorial hospital's emergency department and 200 are going to urgent care with these symptoms.  That's up 30 % more than usual.

It's a similar scene at Denver Children's hospital where patients with flu-like symptoms wait in another area.  One 6-year-old who had swine flu was recently rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing.  "It went downhill very, very fast," said his mother.

But these cases seem to be rare. Valentine says few patients are actually being admitted to memorial for H1N1. "A very small percentage actually have emergency needs for this," he said.

Valentine says most people can stay home and treat themselves with rest and fluids unless they have severe symptoms. "Difficulty breathing, dizziness, vomiting that won't go away, dehydration," he said.

Employees at Memorial and other hospitals will be getting the swine flu vaccine.  It's not mandatory for employees at Memorial, but strongly encouraged.  "We'll be getting it soon and we'll be distributing it soon. Hopefully this week," he said.



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