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AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!

 
Anonymous Coward
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09/22/2009 02:46 PM
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AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
[link to www.statesman.com]

Swamped with flu patients, Dell Children's Medical Center sets up triage tents
Flu also causing staffing shortage in ER.
By Mary Ann Roser
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dell Children's Medical Center is seeing so many children sick with what is presumed to be swine flu, it expects to start treating some of them in tents starting today.

The hospital was on pace Monday afternoon for an all-time record number of patients after seeing more than 200 before 3 p.m. the normal load for a 24-hour period, said Sister Teresa George, chief operating officer. During the school year, the busy time starts after 3 p.m., when schools are out, George said. Hospital officials said most of the children arriving at the emergency room are mildly to moderately ill with the H1N1 virus. The hospital isn't routinely testing to determine what type of flu patients have, but federal health officials say virtually all flu circulating now is H1N1.

The hospital ER has seen steady increases in patients over the past couple of weeks, but the past week has been especially grueling, with some days easily exceeding 300 patients, said Dr. Pat Crocker, chief of emergency medicine at the hospital. When 343 patients swamped the hospital Sunday, officials decided to set up the tents and triage patients with less severe flu there starting today, officials said.

"There's no question there's still a certain amount of panic" over the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu (a combination of pig, bird and human viruses), Crocker said. He said most of the patients coming in are at higher risk for complications from flu: They are younger than 5, have asthma or other chronic conditions or need to be seen by a doctor because of trouble breathing or a fever persisting longer than three days or are sicker than they should normally be with flu. Most don't need to be hospitalized.

Since April, 44 people have died of swine flu in Texas, including seven children under 18.

Set up just outside the ER entrance, the two tents, which were sweltering Monday afternoon, were going to be air-conditioned by today at a cost of $2,000, George said. Crocker said the tents could accommodate eight to 16 beds.

Officials expect patient volumes to stay high, and seasonal flu could hit as early as next month. Right now, about half of the patients are complaining of flu, said Dr. Thomas "Tate" Erlinger, Seton's director of research administration, infection prevention and epidemiology.

The volumes are higher than expected, Erlinger said.

Stella Castillo, 46, of Pflugerville, who stood in the hospital foyer just outside a packed waiting room at Dell Children's on Monday with her 16-year-old daughter, said some primary care doctors are telling parents to go straight to the ER because they are too busy to see any more patients. Children wearing masks swarmed around a desk not far from Castillo, who said she had been waiting about three hours.

The hospital staff is grappling with its own bout of illness. About 10 to 15 ER nurses are out sick with flu, George said. Dell Children's and its parent, the Seton Family of Hospitals, is scrambling to staff the ER, George said.

Seton is paying bonuses to nurses willing to work extra shifts, borrowing staff members from other floors at Dell Children's and bringing in nurses from other Seton hospitals, including the new Seton Medical Center Hays, which won't open in Kyle until Oct. 1, George said.

Dell Children's also has asked CommUnityCare, the public clinic system operated by the Travis County Healthcare District, to help out by extending clinic hours so that patients who don't need to go to an ER can be seen in a less costly clinic environment.

"The hours aren't extended yet, but we will if we need to," said David Vliet, CommUnityCare CEO.

What is happening in the ER is a sign of what is going on elsewhere in Central Texas.

In the Hays consolidated school district, a spokeswoman said several campuses reported that more than 10 percent of students in a particular grade level were absent. One campus, Science Hall, had a 14 percent absentee rate.

Roxanne Evans, a spokeswoman for the Austin school district, said it has not had "extensive absences from any campuses due to flu."

"I think it's going to be a very busy flu season," Crocker said.

maroser@statesman.com; 445-3619

Additional material from staff writer Laura Heinauer.

Think you or your child has the flu?

Call or see a doctor if:

The child is younger than a year old.

The person is more ill than you would expect.

Fever persists more than three days.

Symptoms include lethargy that does not improve after taking Tylenol.

There is an existing chronic illness or some other risk factor, such as pregnancy.

Go to the emergency room if:

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, trouble breathing, persistent vomiting, seizures or confusion.

Source: Dr. Pat Crocker, Dell Children's emergency medicine chief
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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09/22/2009 03:02 PM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
bump
Anonymous Coward
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09/22/2009 03:03 PM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
hiding
Anonymous Coward
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09/22/2009 03:04 PM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
Perfect.
Anonymous Coward
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09/22/2009 03:04 PM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
Anyone down there that can go get us a frontline report and pictures?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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09/22/2009 03:41 PM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
Here is some more info from a local chanel:

[link to www.news8austin.com]

Dell Children's hospital responds to influx of flu cases
Updated: 9/21/2009 9:42 PM
By: Bob Robuck


Staff set up tents directly in front of Dell Children's Medical Center.

Staff has set up tents directly in front of Dell Children's Medical Center, because with the more than 300 kids now showing up daily, doctors had to do something.

"These tents are adjacent to the emergency room entrance, so patients coming into the hospital can easily access them," Chief Operating Officer Sister Teresa George said.

Until now, parents could only bring their children to the emergency room, and many had to wait several hours.

"She's been tired. She's been hungry. I took her to go get something to eat, and they gave me this little blue buzzer, and it has gone off twice, and they were not ready for us," parent Tiasha Brown said about her sick child.

With the tent triage, doctors believe they can work kids through the process a lot faster. A nurse will first greet families at the front of the emergency room and assess the children.


Those at a higher-risk will go inside the hospital to be seen by a doctor. Lower-risk children will go to the tents and staff will test children and put them in the eight to 16 beds to wait for doctors.

Pediatricians said they've seen an awful lot of Type A flu patients, quite possibly H1N1. Fortunately they've admitted only a handful to the hospital.

"So far it has proven to be a mild to moderate flu virus, not any worse than the regular flu. And most children who are over four and free of any chronic conditions are weathering it just fine," Dell Children's Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Pat Crocker said.

Staff hopes they'll need the tents for only a few days but may have to move them to a more permanent location if the virus persists.

Doctors said they've seen an escalation of flu patients at other area hospitals, but nothing like Dell Children's Medical Center.

Families can follow what's going on at area hospitals and keep up with H1N1 information by going to Seton's Twitter page on the Web. The address is Twitter.com/SetonH1N1.
Anonymous Coward
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09/22/2009 03:48 PM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
I am wondering what the impact of all the flooding in the Southeast is going to have because we already have the most widespread incidences of the flu already.
bubba
User ID: 782068
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09/29/2009 12:44 AM
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Re: AUSTIN TX downtown hospital creates Triage in parking lot due to FLU!
Anyone down there that can go get us a frontline report and pictures?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 776435

sorry we've all been banned in Austin.I'm posting from California.


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