ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Bayfront Medical Center has started isolating patients who come into the ER with the flu and flu-like symptoms. This comes after hospital officials said they're seeing an extraordinarily high number of patients.
Officials said it is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus within the hospital.
According to hospital officials, they treated nearly 50 more patients in the ER than their average on Monday. "For this time of year, we are seeing more flu cases than is considered normal," said Dr. Clinton Holder.
The isolation will require patients who come to the ER to wear masks, and then staff will move them out of the waiting area and into private rooms. Patients who are admitted will also be placed by themselves in a room, where visitors are discouraged. Health care staff will also be required to wear masks when treating them.
Officials with Tampa General Hospital said they already do a similar procedure by asking patients with flu-like symptoms to wear masks. For BayCare Health System, officials said they don't have flu isolation in place, but offer hand-washing and sanitizing stations throughout the hospital.
Dr. Holder believes the reason for the increase in flu cases is largely due to a lack of people getting the flu shot. He adds the ER is not the best place to come for those with the flu. "If you're short of breath, if you're confused, if you have a really high fever, if you feel light-headed or like you're going to pass out, or some of these other more extreme systems, yeah, come on in. If you have a high fever and cough and a headache, you'd be better served in a primary care office, the health department, a clinic," he said.