Pardee UNC Health Care in North Carolina and WVU Medicine in West Virginia are among the hospitals and systems advising area residents to make full use of local urgent care centers as flu cases mount, slamming emergency rooms with more visitors than they can handle efficiently. Pardee is pleading with area residents who have flu-like symptoms—or any non–life-threatening complaint—to stay away from the ED and instead visit one of its urgent care facilities. In getting the word out through local media, they also gave prospective patients the operating hours of each clinic, reminded them of the urgent care operations’ capabilities, and listed symptoms common among people with influenza. Importantly, they also advised people how to lower the risk of getting the flu or passing it along to others. WVU Medicine has largely the same message, but tempered it by suggesting that patients who are at high risk for complications (under age 6 or over age 50, pregnant women, and those with heart, lung, or kidney problems) still go to the ED if they think they have the flu.
Flu Rates Have Hospital Systems Pushing Patients to Urgent Care