Flu Patients Fill North Texas Hospital Beds

Some hospitals are at or near capacity

Some North Texas hospitals are so overwhelmed with flu patients that they have run out of available rooms to admit them, medical officials say.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said J.R. Labbe, a spokeswoman for John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. “Our beds are full. It’s pretty dramatic.”

In Dallas, the director of emergency medical services also said hospitals are very, very full.

“Our hospitals are pretty much near capacity,” Dr. Paul Pepe said. “There is concern we haven’t hit the peak yet.”

In Tarrant County, 10 of 19 hospitals reported capacity issues – from no room in intensive care units to backups in emergency rooms, according to a summary reviewed by NBC DFW. Still, officials stressed that hospitals remain open and are able to care for seriously ill patients.

But Labbe said JPS is asking patients with simple flu symptoms to consider going to emergency clinics or doctor’s offices for treatment. At the hospital, she said, some patients are waiting in the crowded emergency room for a bed to become available.

Pepe said some hospitals would go on divert status, meaning ambulances would be turned away. But so many hospitals are so busy, he said, none can divert patients because they would have nowhere to go.

In Fort Worth, the board overseeing emergency care has not allowed hospitals to go on “divert” status for several years because it overwhelms other hospitals, said Medstar spokesman Matt Zavadsky.

Not all hospitals are sounding the alarm.

Megan Brooks, a spokeswoman for Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital, said the facility is not full and is accepting patients.

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