Suncoast hospitals take on flu crisis

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SARASOTA – It seems to be the same story everywhere.

“We’re seeing about triple the amount of flu cases we typically see in a given year,” Sarasota Memorial Exec. Director of Outpatient Services, Frank Morgan, said.

“We’ve actually seen approximately triple the number of influenza patients this year as compared to last year,” Doctors Hospital Emergency Physician Frank Biondolillo said.

Last January at Doctors, there were 44 cases of flu. This month, they’ve seen 145.

“Just seems every other patient has flu symptoms: cough cold, influenza A or B swab positive, and that’s really crowding the emergency department,” Biondolillo said.

So much that now some doctors are skipping the swab.

“Right now the CDC is not recommending that we do a lot of testing if the patients are presenting with the flu symptoms,” Morgan said. “The physician’s just going ahead and starting the treatment process.”

Most patients are discharged from the hospital and advised to follow up with their primary care physician, but the flu season isn’t the only season raising concern for hospitals.

“Into the beat of season, seeing lots of patients and caring for them,” Biondolillo said. “The majority of them require admission because they’re elderly.”

Elderly patients have an increased risk of other complications.

“Some patients are being admitted, but they usually have other issues that are going on when they do have to be admitted for flu,” Morgan said.

“People who have had influenza come back with a post-influenza pneumonia,” Biondolillo said.

The hospitals and urgent cares aren’t running out of bed, just hours, mainly at the Sarasota Memorial urgent care on University Pkwy. and Honore Ave.

“At this specific location, for the month of February on Mondays, we’ll be open 7 A.M. to 10 P.M., which is an hour earlier and two additional hours later,” Morgan said.

That location will also have those hours for the entire month of March.

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Hallie Peilet
Hallie Peilet is an Indiana University graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in music. She has had experience in several media outlets. Previously, she interned for WCIU-TV in Chicago, learning about production and live reporting. During her senior year at IU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for her campus news station, and as a multimedia journalist for WTIU/WFIU, the PBS/NPR affiliate in Bloomington. She grew up just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, discovering new music, and watching Chicago sports. If you have an idea for a story, e-mail her at hallie.peilet@snntv.com.