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OUTBREAK: Hospital run off feet with spike in flu cases

BUSY TIME: There has been an increase in reported flu cases in Ipswich.
BUSY TIME: There has been an increase in reported flu cases in Ipswich. Warren Lynam

QUEENSLAND is facing a flu outbreak and in Ipswich, the spike in sick people has put pressure on the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department.

This week a record number of people were taken to the hospital via ambulance, making the department among the busiest in the state.

With 512 confirmed cases of influenza across the West Moreton region, authorities are pleading with residents to only call an ambulance in an emergency.

Warnings have also been issued that flu cases are likely to increase in the coming weeks.

In 2016 there were 23,261 confirmed cases of influenza across Queensland.

This year that figure has already hit 10,840 and flu season doesn't end until October.

The 512 flu cases confirmed in Ipswich are double the number recorded this time last year.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Chief Operating Officer John Burns said while winter was always a busy time, a near record 96 patients came through the Emergency Department via ambulance on Monday.

That was followed by 94 patients on Tuesday.

Mr Burns said the high number of presentations was a reminder to only go to the Emergency Department in case of emergency, adding it was never too late for a flu vaccine.

"Winter is always a busy time for our Emergency Department," Mr Burns said.

"Bear in mind our staff are not immune to sickness either so our clinicians are working incredibly hard to maintain the quality of care at a particularly challenging time of year.

"In April there was an average of 70 patients arriving each day. That figure grew to almost 80 in July but this week, so far, has been one of our busiest yet.

"Given the huge demand for services, our staff and leadership team have performed admirably under pressure.

"If your complaint is not life-threatening, you may have to wait longer (at the Emergency Department) than you would at a GP's surgery."

On the same day Ipswich Hospital accepted one of the biggest intakes of patients by ambulance, the hospital was less than one per cent off meeting the national Emergency Length of Stay target to assess, discharge or admit to hospital 80 per cent of people who present to hospital within four hours.

Out of hours? Try Home Doctor

In March a home doctor service covering Ipswich launched with a guarantee you won't wait hours for a visit.

Hello Home Doctor operates during out of hours and calls about the influenza are common.

Call Hello Home Doctor Service on 13 41 00.

If you're not sure, call 13 HEALTH to speak with a qualified nurse for advice.

Confirmed flu cases

West Moreton

  • 2017: 512
  • This time last year: 228

**Flu season runs from May to October

Metro South

  • 2017: 2650
  • This time last year: 1342

Queensland

  • 2017: 10,840
  • This time last year: 5,435

 

Are you eligible for a free vaccine?

  • pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy
  • people 65 years of age or older
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children aged six months to five years
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people 15 years of age or older
  • people six months of age or older who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications.

  How to avoid spreading the flu

  • Throw your tissue in a plastic-lined rubbish bin after use
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and if water is unavailable use an alcohol-based hand cleaner after you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread easily
  • Don't go to work if you are unwell and don't send children to school or childcare if they are unwell
  • Keep surfaces such as door handles, kitchen bench tops, phones and keyboards clean
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Topics:  flu outbreak ipswich hospital



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