MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you need to go to the emergency room, you may be waiting longer than normal.
Hospitals across the Mid-South are sending out a warning as ERs reach near capacity.
Doctors said that the situation is only getting worse as flu activity skyrockets across the area.
“We are starting to see our pre-pandemic and during pandemic volumes of patients come in through our emergency departments,” Dr. LaTonya Washington, the chief medical officer at Methodist North Hospital said.
Health experts are calling it a “Tripledemic.” Cases of flu, RSV, and COVID are straining hospitals.
“What that means is we’re having more people come into the emergency room department with those respiratory illnesses, as well as with those common conditions that we typically see as well,” Dr. Washington said.
Dr. Washington said that the increase means people seeking care in the emergency room may have to wait longer than normal.
“You are a patient, but bring your patience with you,” she said. “We are working hard to triage patients and making sure we’re taking care of the most critical patients as soon as they are presenting to the emergency departments.”
That’s why healthcare workers ask you to stay out of the ER unless you have a true emergency.
That can include chest pain, uncontrollable bleeding or feeling like you can’t breathe.
“Some things such as an earache or a mild respiratory condition, if you’re having a cold or cough maybe not associated with shortness of breath or you may just need a prescription for some medications, that would be a time when it’s more appropriate to follow up with the minor med or primary care,” Dr. Washington said.
Dr. Washington said everyone should do what they can to stay out of the hospital and reduce the risk of getting sick.
“Things like reducing the risk of respiratory illness like handwashing, wearing a mask, staying at home if you’re sick and then also we have to encourage vaccinations for both COVID as well as the flu,” she said.
FOX13 checked in with other hospitals in the area about their emergency departments.
Baptist Memorial Healthcare said that it has seen a recent increase in emergency rooms due to respiratory issues. Wait times vary depending on the time of day.
LeBonheur Children’s Hospital said that it is also very busy and has been dealing with an increase in admissions for the past few weeks.
Regional One said that the facility is busy, but nothing unusual and beds are available.