Flu outbreak concerns causing crowded waiting rooms

January 10, 2013 8:35:45 PM PST
Health officials at the CDC and elsewhere say they're seeing the worst start of the flu season in 20 years and it is approaching epidemic proportions.

The flu has been labeled widespread in 42 states, and that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Hospitals are being over-run, with some building temporary flu triage centers in parking lots just to keep their emergency rooms free to handle all other medical problems.

Meanwhile, doctors at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Hunting Park are swamped with sick children failing to fight off the flu.

"Right now we have about 50 patients in our waiting room and that has been the average, from 20 to 50 waiting to just be seen in our emergency department," Dr. Laura Donaldson said.

Parents, if you haven't gotten a flu shot for yourself or your children, it's not too late.

Doctors are still urging people to get a flu shot, keep a healthy diet, and maintain good hygiene with extra handwashing.

Only when flu-like symptoms intensify or linger beyond a few days, see a doctor.

"[Symptoms include] more trouble breathing, some of the complications might be wheezing or having asthma-like symptoms," Dr. Donaldson said.

An achy body is what brought Maureen Kircher of South Philadelphia in to a Doctors Express Urgent Care Center in South Philadelphia.

The recent flu hype has her a little extra concerned.

"Everyone I speak to on the phone tells me this one's sick or that one's sick, it's kind of scary. I'm scared," Kircher said.

But not everyone is convinced the flu vaccine is for them.

"I'm leaning towards not getting it. I'm extremely clean. I wash my hands all the time and I take my vitamins," Laura Garrett of Center City said.

If you do fall victim to the flu and either have underlying health issues or cannot keep fluids down, Dr. Jason Torrente of Doctors Express says you should seek medical care.

A doctor's care can help keep you hydrated, though, for the record, antibiotics will not cure you.

For the most part, you have to ride the virus out.

"If you think you have the flu, I think you should really stay home," Dr. Torrente said.