Flu Tents Open At Lehigh Valley Hospital

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SALISBURY TOWNSHIP -- The flu season is well upon us and medical experts say it’s not only starting earlier this year, they expect to see a higher number of flu cases as well.

A hospital in the Lehigh Valley is now taking steps to diagnose and treat potential flu patients faster.

Cheryl Palm has the flu. She found out after being diagnosed at a temporary clinic inside heated tents stationed outside the emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Cedar Crest campus. Now she and the tents are getting a lot of attention.

“This is great. You don’t even have to have to sit and wait for hours in the emergency room. You go right in here to this little flu clinic that they have,” said Palm. “The doctor came into to see me, I told him my symptoms and that’s it, got the diagnosis.”

Palm also happens to also be nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital and says she has been treating more people for the flu this year.

Because of the higher number of cases, the hospital decided to set up the tents to treat flu cases more efficiently.

“Our waiting room times would increase. We have lots of patients in the waiting room,” said Dr. David Burmeister, the chairman of the hospital’s emergency room. “We were to the point where we really needed to segregate as many patients as we could away from this influenza-like illness patient.”

If you’re feeling sick, the first step is to come to the hospital’s emergency room, at the Cedar Crest campus.

Once it’s been decided you do have flu-like symptoms, you would then be escorted down a short walkway to the tents, where you would then be diagnosed.

“It’s specifically for flu and any other person that we can very quickly get in and out of the system to avoid any contact with sicker patients within the hospital system and within our waiting room,” said Dr. Burmeister.

People in the area say they’re glad to see their hospital being so pro-active.

“It looks like they have everything very organized and safe and it’s heated so that’s nice,” said Nancy Ashley.

The clinic inside the tents is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and will stay in place as long as needed at Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest.

Distribution of flu cases reported in Pennsylvania this season by county, 10/02/12 - 01/05/2013 (n=11, 327)
Image courtesy: PA Department of Health