Survey of hospitals show severity of current flu season

Published 7:42 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A recent survey of hospitals in Alabama showed that nearly half of them are experience the worst flu season they can remember.

Nearly half of the Alabama hospitals that participated in a recent survey said this flu season was “one of the worst flu seasons they had experienced.”

The survey, which was conducted by the Alabama Hospital Association, sought input on the current flu season that has seen an overflow of crowds at doctors’ offices and hospital waiting rooms.

“From talking with our hospital leaders, we knew they had been extremely busy, particularly in the emergency departments and that this season had ramped up earlier than normal,” said Rosemary Blackmon, executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

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While those responding that this season was the worst they had seen (46 percent), 31 percent of those responding said the season was “not that different than previous seasons,” while a quarter of those responding said “it is too early to tell.”

The survey, which measured emergency department visits from October through the second week in January, showed the highest numbers in December, with 5,680 confirmed cases treated in the ED and 459 admissions.

“However, as bad as it was, the survey revealed that flu cases represented only about 4 percent of ED visits and a little more than 1 percent of admissions during the busiest month of December,” Blackmon said.

The survey included Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma, and according to Vaughan’s Merrill South, the hospital saw 270 cases of the flu between October and early January.