Flu among factors keeping BWWMH full

Like most of its sister states, Alabama is suffering from an abnormally intense bout of flu epidemic, a phenomenon some experts are calling the worst flu season in 10 years. While the stuffiness, coughing, fever and other unfavorable symptoms are the most noticeable effects of influenza, an often overlooked side effect has occurred at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital where the facility has been operating at or near capacity for much of the last few weeks.

“Extremely busy from a staffing standpoint,” BWWMH assistant administrator Art Evans said of the hospital’s log jam in the area of patient flow. “Our Geri-Psych unit has been busy. Our self recovery unit has been very busy. Our Med-Surg has been maxed out.”

Evans indicated a great number of the patients who have been admitted to the hospital in recent weeks have been flu sufferers, a fact that puts Demopolis right in line with much of the country.

“Nationwide it seems like Alabama and other states are seeing earlier flu epidemics than we normally see,” Evans said. “We’ve seen this type of business generally later in the year. Typically you would see it in the fall. This year it just happens we’re seeing it earlier. We’re continuing to see an extremely high case load of patients that are needing an acute care bed.”

With the number of patients needing a bed, the BWWMH staff is continuously checking patients to determine if discharge is an option. That process is one Evans said the staff has been undergoing approximately three times a day of late.

“We’re constantly addressing who is in a bed, who is in a position that they can be discharged,” Evans said.

While most experts project the worst of the flu season has yet to come, Evans observes that the outbreak has not been as bad as could be.

“A lot of people who have taken the flu shot have been more fortunate,” Evans said. “The Center for Disease Control has indicated that the strain of this flu epidemic is exactly what has been provided for by this vaccine.”