By Wyatt Goolsby
WEST TEXAS - It's not officially the Flu season yet, but Emergency Room doctors and nurses are seeing early signs. Across West Texas and Southeast New Mexico, hospitals are seeing a spike in patients with Flu-like symptoms.
It's the same problem at many hospitals here in the Permian Basin. A lot of people are worried about H1N1 and the regular flu, so as soon as they get sick, they want to see a doctor.
As NewsWest 9 has reported this week, hospitals in Midland are seeing a spike in patients in the ER. However, it's more widespread than that.
Officials with the Permian Basin Regional Medical Center in Andrews said the rise in patients with flu symptoms in their ER is dramatic.
In addition, reports say more flu patients are coming to emergency rooms in Lea County, New Mexico, and those hospitals are encouraging them to rest at home if they have a form of the flu.
Students in Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD followed that advice. Hundreds missed class on Monday, many with flu like symptoms. Doctors and nurses are reminding everyone that for most flu cases, you don't need to go to the ER.
"Patients are waiting sometimes one and two hours whereas before our patients weren't having to wait very long," Cori Armstead, R.N., with Midland Memorial Hospital, explained. "We can get them straight back, but with the large influx of patients coming in now, sometimes they're having to wait out front, just to be told the same thing that we are saying on the news. Stay home, get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids, and take over-the-counter medication."
Hospital officials in West Texas said if you're fairly healthy and get the flu, rushing to the ER could cost you a lot of money too. Again, you can get many of the medications over-the-counter. However, if you need to see a doctor, officials said clinics and private physicians should be your first option.