Flu patients crowding Mobile emergency rooms, ambulances diverted


Over the past few days local emergency rooms have been flooded with patients.

Emergency responders say it's due to the flu. It's so bad patients have to be diverted to other locations and ambulance services are overwhelmed because they're stuck waiting with patients.

“You basically are sitting with the patient on your stretcher because they have no available beds to put them on," Newman’s Ambulance director Ron Broughton said.

He says that backs up their system and slows down response time because they are stuck at the hospital waiting with the patient.

"Just a couple of days ago at one of the hospitals, I had a truck that set there for 2.5 to 3 hours with a patient on a stretcher," he said.

Broughton says he believes the crowd comes from the flu.

"The amount of flu that's hitting the emergency rooms is just unbelievable right now," he said.

To cut down on the overcrowd USA Medical Center suggests people with flu like symptoms to call their primary care physician instead of going to the ER.

"We try to encourage them if they need us come here, if not start with your primary care physician start with urgent care," USA Infection prevention director Teresa Aikens.

Hospitals go on and off diversion throughout the day. Sometimes avoiding that wait time is impossible.

If patient wants to go to a hospital that is full-- emergency responders say they have to go along with the patient's request.

"The patient has been informed that this hospital is on diversion and there could be an extended wait to be seen by a doctor or nurse and if they choose to go to that hospital we honor the patient's request and transport accordingly," Mobile Fire Rescue spokesman Steven Millhouse said.

If all hospitals are on diversion, emergency responders say they're free to pick any hospital but that doesn't stop the wait time.

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