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Clinics and ERs Inundated with Flu Patients

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

Jackson, Tenn. - Patient by patient Jackson emergency rooms and clinics are being flooded with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

"It's an epidemic because so many people are getting it and they're getting it early," said Vickie Honeycut, a nurse practitioner at Regional Hospital.

According to health officials, about 75 percent of the people coming in are displaying flu-like symptoms. According to a nurse at Physicians Quality Care, they have had record numbers of patients this week.

As people begin to feel sick and visit their doctors not only are wait lines growing but so are the amount of sick people possibly infecting others. "If you're sitting in the doctor's office and someone has the flu sitting next to you you are going to be exposed," explains Honeycut.

Of 119 people visiting Physicians Quality Care in Jackson about 90 of them were diagnosed with the flu, according to officials. With the surplus of people becoming sick Jackson emergency rooms are being slammed with patients, a lot earlier than many health care officials had anticipated.

Sheila Emerson was diagnosed with the flu, but not the first day she originally visited the hospital. She said when she first sought health care, the wait was more than six hours. "When I came here on Sunday it was a five hour wait so I went to Convenient Care. It was six hours. [When] I went to the emergency room there were people everywhere," she recalled.

Despite the potential to be in close proximity to sick people, and possibly long waits, doctors urge you to visit your health care provider as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms.

"With the flu the sooner the better. Within the first 24-28 hours if you can be treated and diagnosed you'll do better with the medications available," suggest Honeycut.

To prevent getting the flu she also suggests washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer and disinfectants on public surfaces like counters and grocery carts.

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