Hospitals, First Responders Are Prepared For Flu Season


Although the flu season peaks around February 14, hospitals across the country are already taking on nearly 6,500 confirmed hospitalizations this season. 

Flu patients are flooding hospitals in California, where patients are even spilling out into the parking lots for treatment. 

Ambulances are being turned away, too, at a hospital near San Bernardino. Back here in KELOLAND, Paramedic Scott Christensen says that’s not far fetched. 

“Most people can handle typical flu symptoms on their own, but there are severe cases and typically we’re called for those,” Christensen said

There are 145 confirmed cases of influenza in Minnehaha County, 32 of which required a hospital stay. 

“Certainly we do and we have transported a couple of flu patients this year,” Christensen said. 

While local hospitals are not full of flu patients right now, Chistensen says there’s a plan in place for overcrowding.

“When we are with a patient, we’re transporting, we call a hospital, to give them a report on patient. They’ll make a decision on whether they can accept or deny at that point,” Christensen said. 

Ambulance transportation is highly based on choice, even when a patients first choice is unavailable or too crowded. 

“When we call report to a hospital, if they cannot accept that patient, for whatever reason, they’ll ask us to divert to another facility. So then we ask the patient what their second choice would be,” Christensen said. 

Christensen says flu calls are picking up each day and he’s preparing to give the best care possible, no matter how busy facilities may become. 

“Sometimes in severe cases, patients are unresponsive. And then we’re asked to intervene and we provide care and treatment for those patients in route to the hospital,” says Christensen. 

For a look at flu numbers in your county and the number of hospitalizations, view the summary reports on the South Dakota Department of Health website

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