The 2017-2018 flu season continued putting pressure on North Texas healthcare providers, as cases rose and Dallas County reported the 10th and 11th deaths from influenza this season so far.
MedStar Mobile Healthcare, the exclusive emergency and non-emergency ambulance provider for Fort Worth and 14 other cities in North Central Texas, reported a 611 percent increase in the number of flu-related calls per day since November.
In November, the ambulance provider said, it experienced 1.8 cases per day of patients with “primary or secondary impressions of influenza.” Through Jan. 5, however, that figure had risen to 12.8 cases each day.
Meantime, Methodist Dallas Medical Center said so many patients were exhibiting flu-like symptoms, the hospital had reached critical capacity and was having to re-route non-emergency ambulance patients, consistent with state and federal laws.
“This measure is so we can still take care of emergency patients such as trauma, stroke, and sexual assault,” Methodist Dallas said in a written statement Monday afternoon. “We take this very seriously because we want to treat anyone in need anytime.
“We are seeing all patients who come in to our emergency department on their own, but just like other Dallas-area hospitals that are on advisory or close to capacity, many of the patients with flu-like or non-emergent symptoms are having to wait longer than usual because of the spike in traffic.
“During this period,” the hospital went on, “we encourage anyone having non-emergent symptoms to seek care at an urgent care facility or through their primary care physician.”
Monday evening, however, Methodist Dallas issued another statement saying it was “no longer at critical capacity,” and had “resumed receiving all patients coming in by ambulance in need of medical treatment.”
Earlier this month, JPS Health Network in Fort Worth reported filling 156 prescriptions for Tamiflu during the last week of December 2017, up from 34 prescriptions the first week of December. Tamiflu is an antiviral medicine that’s prescribed to treat the flu in people two weeks of age and older who’ve had flu symptoms for no more than two days.
North Texas medical clinics also reported extra-long wait times for possible flu cases, with Lewisville’s PediPlace, for example, extending its hours to meet the rising demand.