Too many patients, barely enough beds: How hospitals are handling the flu overload


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Doctors say this year’s flu season is only going to get worse. Hospitals in The Garden City are experiencing overcrowding.

“All of the hospitals have been in emergency medical diversion at some point,” said Augusta University Medical Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Philip Coule. “Meaning, they are saying we can’t handle any ambulances right now because we’re too full.”

Influenza B got here early, and the virus joined the regular flu season. Then you have other viruses circulating. It’s a combination that’s causing a lot of folks to get sick.

“Influenza B behaves a little bit differently,” explained Dr. Coule. “It mutates more slowly than other types of influenzas. Because of that, many adults might get a little sick with Influenza B. However, children who have never been exposed to it may get a more severe case of the flu, than say, adults.”

The Chief Medical Officer says the Augusta University Medical Center has had to open additional beds to keep up. He says having a new hospital in Columbia County would help.

“Columbia County is growing rapidly,” said Dr. Coule. “The health care demands of Columbia County is growing rapidly. It just demonstrates a lack of capacity and the problems it creates when we don’t have enough hospital beds and no hospital in Columbia County. As that would be an additional location for people to go.”

Dr. Coule adds people who are high risk to the flu should come to the hospital to be evaluated. He advises others to get plenty of rest and take Motrin.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.