ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Emergency rooms are seeing an influx of patients suffering flu symptoms even though most of those people don't need to go to the hospital. To help reduce the crowds one area hospital opened a special clinic just to treat those who are sick with the flu.
Today was the first day the clinic opened and so far today they've already seen more than 6 patients but once things pick up they are expecting to see up to 60 people a day.
Emergency rooms everywhere have been flooded with sick patients, waiting to be treated for the flu. Doctors at Tift Regional say they have seen a significant increase in ER patients.
"The ER volume has been up between 180 and 200 patients a day that's more than we usually see we usually average about 130 of those about 30 to 25% have flu type symptoms so your basically talking 50 to 60 patients a day with flu like symptoms," said Raymond Moreno, Vice President of Medical Affairs.
To alleviate the situation officials at Tift Regional Medical Center opened a temporary flu clinic to treat patients experiencing flu like symptoms and thin out the emergency room. They used an old-walk in clinic and within 7 days the clinic was up and running.
"We are encouraging people who have more than just minor symptoms to come here especially people that our pregnant, youngsters or people that have high risk diseases if someone is healthy with minor symptoms you can probably ride it out at home," said Raymond Moreno.
Doctors and nurses say the routine is quite simple. Once you come in you are given a mask. After the nurse practitioner checks patients they are given an influenza test.
"This is the swab that has the cotton tip on the end actually its more like a sponge and this particular swab has to be placed in the nose and all the way to the back of the nasal pharyngeal area," said nurse practitioner Cindy McNeese.
After 10 minutes a test result is shown, and patients are treated for their symptoms.
"The tests were using are about 70 percent accurate so that means you can have a negative test and still have the influenza that's why they are basing it more on symptoms that what the tests are showing."
"This new flu the novel H1N1 gets you sick just like the regular flu does, its not any worse so if I could say one thing I would say this is not more severe than the usual flu you don't have to worry as much as you might be worrying right now," said Raymond Moreno.
Officials say the overall goal of this clinic is to get more people seen and away from the emergency room if they don't need to be there.
Tift Regional medical center is also restricting visitors to the hospital. Certain groups including pregnant women, children and people over the age of 65 are also discouraged from the hospital unless they need to be there.
The clinic is located at the Tift Regional Medical Center West Campus (Affinity Building) 2225 U.S 41 North, Tifton.
It will be open Monday through Friday 8:30 to 5:30.
Most insurance, Medicare and Medicaid are accepted.