Hospitals near capacity as flu continues to spread

Wait times at local hospitals are expected to go up as the flu spreads.

HOUSTON - It’s a playground of pretend, a museum for imagination, but it can quickly become a jungle gym of germs. 

Houston Children’s Museum is nothing if not ready for this years monster of a flu season that can very easily find it’s way to the inside of the three story fun house.

“We ask parents to wear shoe covers or take off their shoes and wear their socks,"  Henry Yau with the Children’s Museum said. “Our number one customers are children and children's immune systems are different than grown-ups. So we want to make sure that we offer a safe place and a clean place for families to enjoy.”

FLU GUIDE | 3 ways to fight the flu

The shoe covers and dirty toy bags are precautions that are in place all year round, but during flu season, they really show their worth - especially this year. 

“We have multiple hospitals that are requesting diversion of ambulance because of overcrowding as a result of the flu," Houston EMS Director Dr. David Persse said. 

Dr. Persse says at any given time, about 75 percent of hospitals have been requesting diversion, asking ambulances to go elsewhere. 

“Emergency departments are saturated, or perhaps the ICUs are saturated," Dr. Persse said. 

His concern is that it will get worse. But if all hospitals become full, patients will still get care. 

“We have a rule that if everybody is closed, everybody is open. The fire department tries to even the load across all the hospitals, but we will be bringing people to hospitals, you can’t just be driving around the city with a patient in the back of the ambulance waiting for a hospital to open up," Dr. Persse said. 

But he says the first line of defense is at home, and for the Children’s Museum, they’re making sure their home is protected. 

Related: Five flu-related deaths confirmed in Houston area
 
Both Children's Memorial Hermann and Texas Children's Hospital say they are accepting patients.

But they and all hospitals are urging people, that if your symptoms are not critical to seek treatment at an urgent care or even a free standing emergency center. If you do go to a hospital, you can expect to wait quite some time. 

© 2018 KHOU-TV


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