Area emergency rooms packed with patients with respiratory illnesses

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:46 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - As the holiday season is in full swing, Amarillo is seeing an increase in patients with respiratory illnesses.

In the fall and winter months, respiratory illnesses are common, but this year health experts say they’re seeing it earlier and numbers are exceedingly high.

The City of Amarillo, along with area hospital leaders, hosted a news conference to educate the community about what is being seen here.

Health experts call it a “Triple-demic” with patients coming in with Flu, RSV or COVID-19 and in rare cases some patients have two out of the three.

The problem being seen is overload in the emergency rooms, as double digit holds are being seen.

“We want to encourage people to be able to utilize the most appropriate care for their particular medical condition, that not only helps save them money and oftentimes time to be able to contact their primary care physician, if that’s appropriate, staying at home, if that’s appropriate, and going to the emergency room, if that’s appropriate,” said Dr. Todd Bell, public health authority, City of Amarillo.

This not only helps the healthcare system, but it helps with access to the ER.

Some of the warning signs adults could experience when sick and deciding to go to the ER include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Feeling weak
  • Chronic illness becomes worse

For children some of those signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish hue to the lips or skin
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration
  • Chronic illness becomes worse
  • For ages 3 months or younger, a temperature of 100.4º F or higher

Hospitals say with this overflow in emergency rooms, there has been times they’ve had to go on diversion.

“Simply because we’re not able to confidently feel like we’re going to be able to manage that patient potentially coming in from an outside rural community as fast as they may need to be managed,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, BSA chief medical officer.

As for hospital beds, area hospitals are not yet at max capacity, but say they are getting closer as beds fill up.

The city also mentions right now, with respiratory cases, the numbers are the same as the peak last year, but we are just at the beginning of the season, as it’s only the end of November.

As the holidays approach, health experts encourage you to take precautions to protect yourself and others.

They recommend you do things like get vaccinated, practice good hand washing and stay home when you are sick.