MEDFORD, Ore. – Health officials have warned that 2014 is shaping up to be a severe flu season. And with more people ending up in the hospital, the people who treat them are coming down sick as well, and it’s causing a strain in local emergency rooms.
At Providence Medford Medical Center, the emergency room saw 18 positive cases of the flu last week; 15 adults and three children. Doctors in the microbiology lab at the hospital are conducting about seven or eight influenza tests per day during this flu season.
But hospital staff, including doctors and nurses, are getting sick from the flu as well, after being exposed to people with flu symptoms in the ER. The ER staff at Providence, along with other departments in the hospital, have been short staffed because of so many doctors and nurses getting sick. As a result, some employees have had to work long hours, and schedules have been shuffled to meet the demand.
“When you have a high volume of patients and you have staff that are sick too, it makes things very, very, very busy” said Alicia Tyler, a Patient Guide in the Providence Emergency Department.
At Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, employees have also been out with the flu, but a hospital spokesman said it has not had a significant effect on their staffing levels.
There are no requirements for staff at either hospital to receive a flu shot, but staff at both Providence and Asante are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.