ERs are Overwhelmed with Flu Patients; House Calls can Help


The flu is no laughing matter. Last year’s flu season was one of the worst in recent memory, and some experts are predicting that this year will follow the same pattern. We know that the flu vaccine, while certainly helpful, is not a surefire way of avoiding illness.

If you do have symptoms of the flu, it is important to be tested and start treatment immediately as the medications to help alleviate the symptoms of the flu are best when started within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms.

For this reason, thousands of patients each year head to their local emergency rooms, leading to overcrowding and long wait times.

Too Many Patients Make ERs Less Effective

During flu season, ERs commonly report an overwhelming number of sick patients seeking treatment. During last year’s flu outbreak, some emergency departments reported seeing double the number of patients they would normally expect during a flu season. Plus, last year’s influenza outbreak was not only severe, but drawn out. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 21-week season, from October - May, was the longest in 10 years.

In these situations, some hospitals opt to use tents outside. These can be set up as overflow waiting rooms for the sick, to try to contain the spread away from patients with other health concerns. In severe cases, some hospitals have been forced to turn away ambulances because of the sheer number of patients clogging waiting rooms. \

No matter what measures they may take, an influx in the number of patients in emergency departments leads to a slower treatment time for those whose medical concerns aren’t immediately life-threatening. Because patients are triaged, and the most severe concerns are treated first, a flu patient may see waits of several hours before ever being examined.

Senior Trouble with Transportation

For many aging adults, getting to the doctor or ER can prove to be a challenge in it of itself. Whether it’s a lack of transportation or limited physical mobility, the trip there can be stressful and make symptoms worse.



On-Demand Medical Care

Emergency departments play a critical role in providing immediate, excellent and lifesaving care for people in dire situations. And even though emergency rooms are set up to handle just about anything, it can be difficult to handle everything at once.

We know that the best way to prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases is for sick individuals to minimize contact with others. Going to an emergency department in the middle of an outbreak risks contaminating patients who are there for other reasons such as injury or noninfectious illness. Additionally, if you have misdiagnosed yourself and instead are currently suffering from a cold or other lesser health concern, you are likely exposing yourself to the very problem you’re seeking to treat. There’s a better option.

DispatchHealth Travels so the Flu Doesn’t [embed][/embed] DispatchHealth helps prevent ER burnout by bringing quality care to the patient’s home for urgent, but not life-threatening issues.

This is especially helpful for many aging adults, when getting to the doctor or ER can prove to be a challenge. Whether it’s a lack of transportation or limited physical mobility, the trip there can be stressful and make symptoms worse. In-home urgent care offers a convenient, comfortable solution.

With a simple call to 1-866-FLU-CREW, the DispatchHealth Traveling Flu Crew will bring high-quality medical care to your home so you can fight the flu without leaving the couch. A team of ER-trained medical professionals will arrive, ready to perform a rapid infectious disease test to confirm the presence and strain of flu, and then treat patients with medications, advice and IV fluids if needed.

Each medical team consists of either a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, along with a DispatchHealth medical technician (DHMT) and also an on-call physician. To provide a seamless care experience, immediately after the visit and with patient consent, providers share a detailed report to each patient’s living community, home health agency and/or primary care physician.

Even better, they’re partnered with most major insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, and handle billing directly with those companies. In fact, a visit with DispatchHealth typically costs 80-90 percent less than the average emergency room visit.

So if you or a loved one start to feel flu-like symptoms, stay cozy on the couch and get ER-level care delivered to your home. If this is an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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