Local hospitals busy with flu patients

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Via Christi and Wesley hospitals are working hard to make sure the flu doesn't cripple hospital operations.

Emergency room wait times are up and it's so busy at times that some hospitals are diverting ambulances to others with shorter wait-times so that everyone is seen quickly.

Some of those decisions are made in a room known as Va Christi Direct, which is like an air traffic control for a hospital.

"We're able to navigate and figure out where that patient needs to go."Linsey Coster said.

Coster is the director of logistics at Via Christi Health Systems. She leads the Via Christi Direct team. The job is to get every patient in and out of their system efficiently to make room for more people. She says they use real-time data to track how many patients are waiting in the emergency rooms for beds upstairs, how many patients are coming in by EMS or private vehicle, how many dismissals and more.

But house supervisor, Shanna Carter, urges people  with flu-like symptoms to avoid the emergency room. 

"The ER is a good place to go, but not just for the flu," Carter said.

Carter says if you have the flu you can treat it with over-the-counter medicine or a prescription from your primary care doctor or an urgent care facility. Doing this allows these ER doctors to see more serious patients quickly. 

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