LUMBERTON — Southeastern Health officials are steering people who are seeking non-emergency care away from Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s emergency department and to area medical clinics because of an increase in the number of people seeking treatment for the flu at the hospital.
SRMC administrators say the emergency department has treated 153 people who have tested positive for the flu over the past month.
“We are asking those in the community who can to seek care for non-life threatening conditions at local doctor’s offices and urgent care centers in order to alleviate some of the high traffic we are currently seeing in the emergency department,” said Sonja Hilburn, Emergency Services director. “This will enable our staff to focus their efforts on those patients whose health conditions are true emergencies.”
There have been 22 flu-related deaths in North Carolina during the 2016-17 flu season, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. There have been at least two in Robeson County, according to Bill Smith, county Health Department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu symptoms include a high fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, which is most common in children.
The CDC urges everyone to get a flu vaccination because it is the best way to prevent getting the flu.
Other steps that can be taken to prevent getting and spreading the flu are:
— Wash your hands.
— Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
— If you are sick, stay home from work and keep your kids home from school if they are sick so it does not spread.
— If you do become sick with the flu, there are antiviral medications you can speak about with your doctor.
Southeastern Health operates primary care and walk-in clinics throughout the region.
“Our established patients can be seen for sick visits without appointments,” said Fordham Britt, Southeastern Health Physician Services Primary Care director. “Anyone who does not have an established provider or medical clinic can visit one of our walk-in clinics at Lumberton Drug, Walmart in Lumberton, Southeastern Health Mall, Southeastern Urgent Care Pembroke or Southeastern Family Medicine Residency Clinic for same-day visits for suspected flu, sinus infection, upper respiratory issues, fever or other general conditions.”
The hospital in Lumberton restricted visitation in January because of dramatic increases in patients being admitted with a variety of illnesses other than influenza.
For a complete clinic listing, log on to www.southeasternhealth.org and click on Services, Physician Services and Primary Care.