Hospitals Struggle, Overburdened with Flu Patients

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NBC Nightly News
Brian Williams/Dr. Nancy Snyderman
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Even though it?s still early in the 2013 flu season, hospitals around the country are stretching their resources to face an onslaught of patients sick with the flu.



"Hospitals Struggle, Overburdened with Flu Patients." Nancy Snyderman, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 8 Jan. 2013. NBC Learn. Web. 8 September 2018.


Snyderman, N. (Reporter), & Williams, B. (Anchor). (2013, January 8). Hospitals Struggle, Overburdened with Flu Patients. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"Hospitals Struggle, Overburdened with Flu Patients" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 01/08/2013. Accessed Sat Sep 8 2018 from NBC Learn:


Hospitals Struggle, Overburdened with Flu Patients


When we talk about flu season this year, getting off to a galloping and virulent start this is what we mean--live picture of Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania where they have got a tent setup out back to treat the overflow patients. In areas where the flu is bad, it's very bad and for health care professionals, it means more patients showing up at hospitals than they can treat in some cases and remember that’s among those so sick with the flu they require hospitalization. The flu is now widespread in forty-one of our fifty states. It is all where we begin tonight with our Chief Medical Editor Doctor Nancy Snyderman. Nancy, good evening.


Good evening, Brian. This is the worst flu season we've seen in more than a decade. It has the CDC concerned and tonight, cities across the country and their hospitals are feeling the strain, and we haven’t even reached the 50 yard line of flu season. Emergency departments have become ground zero in the fight against the flu. At New York St. Barnabas Hospital, the hallways are packed with patients. What's the status today?

DR. ERNEST PATTI (St. Barnabas Hospital): Well right now, compared to last year at this time, we've seen three times as many flu patients as we've seen all of last year.

DR. SNYDERMAN: More than 50 cases a day of flulike symptoms. Is it fair to say that you are overflow?

DR. PATTI: I’d say yes, we’re at overflow right now. Yes, we-- we definitely are.

DR. SNYDERMAN: It is crazy here.

DR. PATTI: We’re very busy. We’re very busy.

DR. SNYDERMAN: Patients like Lawrence Johansson.

LAWRENCE JOHANSSON: Yesterday morning, I started getting dizzy, fever, just feeling terrible.

DR. SNYDERMAN: You look like you feel lousy.


DR. SNYDERMAN: At Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, they’ve seen more flu already this year than they did all of last year. Veteran ER Doctor Charles Pozner.

DR. CHARLES POZNER: Patients usually come in feeling like they’ve been run over by a bus. They basically have body aches, joint aches. They-- they feel feverish. They oftentimes have sweats.

DR. SNYDERMAN: In Chicago hospitals are so overwhelmed with patients, seven have closed their emergency departments diverting ambulances to other facilities. At a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, they are dealing with the onslaught of patients by triaging them in a tent in the parking lot. This influenza virus is tenacious. Droplets from a sneeze or cough can be anywhere, on a doorknob, a keyboard, even a pen for up to eight hours. So how can you avoid the flu? There are some simple precautions. Wash your hands frequently, 15 to 30 seconds at a time, keep your hands away from your eyes and nose. You touch your face more than 2,000 times a day and that's the easiest place for the virus to latch on.

DR. PATTI: So far I don't think it's peaked yet, you know, it's still rising.

DR. SNYDERMAN: If you think you're at risk, the answer might just be a click away. On 20,000 volunteers are compiling reports so you can check how severe the outbreak is in your zip code. There's a Facebook app that checks your friend’s status for words like cough or sneeze. And the CDC has an app which tracks case data state by state. If you think you have the flu, call your primary care doctor immediately because there are medications you can take that can minimize the symptoms and the length of the illness. Don’t go immediately to the emergency room. The hallmark remains prevention and that means for almost everyone out there, that's a flu shot. We undervalue prevention in this country, Brian. I think we have to drive home the fact that this is a virus that can put you in the ICU within 48 hours. This is not a season to fiddle around with.

WILLIAMS: And the flu shot is a good one this year.

DR. SNYDERMAN: It's good, it's a perfect match, and it's available.

WILLIAMS: All right. Doctor Nancy Snyderman starting us off tonight.

DR. SNYDERMAN: You bet, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, as always.