I'm on light duty so I was at work yesterday during the day (unusual) and in my boss's office (unprecedented). I was also logged in to the main charting system to do my super exciting chart audits so I watched the board on and off. Between watching the waiting room fill up and listening to the conversations between administrators I got a very bad feeling---there are too many sick people to fit in the hospital. It's not our fault. It's happening all over the country. What's it all mean?
It means if you have to go to an ER for anything other than an actual emergency (like you're pulseless or apneic or missing a limb), you will wait for a very long time. It also means that if you don't have the flu when you get to the ER, you very likely will when you leave, what with being exposed to it in the waiting room and the main ER. We do what we can, what with cleaning, masks, and lots and lots of handwashing, but all the same...you'll be exposed.
If you have flu symptoms but just feel miserable, by which I mean you're not gasping for air or having other emergent symptoms, why come in? Just to have it confirmed you're sick? You're sick! Please keep your germs to yourself.
For ER staff, it means we will run for 12 hours straight and deal with really mad people, and that wears a person out. And it's a one-two punch. There are patients trying to use the ER as a primary care clinic who are mad at having to wait coupled with patients who are actually sicker than usual. Flu runs up and down: the elderly and the tiny human populations get truly ill. We have to take care of them first. We don't LIKE making you wait 3 hours for your dental pain, but that very well may be the case.
It's going to be a long winter.