LVHN surges ahead of the flu
Large tents have been set up outside the emergency rooms at the Cedar Crest campus of Lehigh Valley Health Network, in Salisbury Township, and at the network’s Muhlenberg Campus, Bethlehem, to handle the large surge of patients visiting the hospitals with flu-related symptoms.
LVHN Spokesman Brian Downs comented on the tents.
“We set up a surge hospital outside the ER at our LVH-Cedar Crest site on Jan. 15 due to high patient volume,” Downs said.
“The last time we did that was January, five years ago.
“We decided to set up the surge hospital because we were seeing patients with a variety of illnesses including viral illnesses and the flu.
“The surge tent provides quicker triage of patients when volume is at its highest.
Downs said minor flu or other illnesses can be seen in the surge unit.
“It also allows us to segregate, not quarantine, patients and provide a safer environment for both patients and our staff, who need to stay healthy to care for those who are sick,” Downs said. “\Since we set up the surge hospital, we have been seeing about 30-40 patients a day inside the unit.”
The hospital spokesman said the health network has also experienced a jump in patient volume at the emergency room at LVH-Muhlenberg, over the previous week, so health officers decided to put up a smaller surge hospital at that site on Jan. 16.
“We will continue to operate the surge units as long as the patient volume remains high as it has during this period of increased illnesses,” Downs said.
Luther Rhodes, MD, chief of hospital epidemiology at LVHN, discussed the flu with The Press.
“The good news is the flu season has likely peaked, although it will be a few weeks before we see it declining,” Rhodes said.
“This is far from the worst flu season we’ve had in the Lehigh Valley. I’d call this an average year.”