Flu Season Hits the Valley Hard

An overflow of patients hit Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia Wednesday night forcing hospital staff to set up a special ER tent.

Wednesday night's surge of patients complaining of flu like symptoms here at Kaweah Delta stretched hospital resources thin.

There weren't enough doctors or beds for patients.

This is a theme echoed at other Valley hospitals.

212 patients visited the Kaweah Delta ER Wednesday complaining of chest pains, cough and fever- all symptoms of the flu.

On average the ER handles about 185 patients a day.

Other Valley Hospitals Such As Tulare District and Sierra View in Porterville have seen similar increases.

Tulare District says they almost ran out of beds Wednesday night and Sierra View says they're operating close to capacity.

Dr. Tim Spade, Emergency Room Physician: "It is more than we've seen in past years. I think it's more severe as far as symptoms. So people feel like they're sicker."

No patients were treated in the ER tent Thursday but Kaweah Delta officials want to keep the tent up through the weekend in case of another surge.

The hospital is expanding.

The new building should open in January 2009 and will house more "in-house patients" as well as "ER patients."

But officials fear another repeat of Wednesday night could happen before the new building is open.

For information on preventing seasonal flu click the link: Center for Disease Control & Prevention Website

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