Walk-In Flu Clinic BusyIt was a very busy day for Altru Health System's first walk-in flu clinic.
By: Casey Wonnenberg, WDAZ
It was a very busy day for Altru Health System's first walk-in flu clinic. The clinic opened Monday, and more than 70 patients used its services. Altru opened the clinic because of the large amount of people coming in with flu-like symptoms.
Dr. Joanne Gaul says, “I don't think in my 20 years in Grand Forks that we had to actually get more providers specifically for one type of illness, like this flu. No, I don't think I've seen this before.”
Dr. Gaul says the clinic is specifically for healthy patients with flu-like symptoms. Those who are at high risk, like children younger than five, people over age 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions should see their primary healthcare provider.
Renee Axtman, Altru’s division administrator for primary care, says, “It also provides some separation of social distancing from those who are having flu-like symptoms away from some of the other patients coming for other reasons to our clinic."
Aside from the walk-in flu clinic, Altru is also regulating who can see patients at its hospital and rehabilitation center.
Axtman says, “We've seen people coming in where they think if they just mask, that it's okay, and we are really recommending that if you're sick, the best thing you can do for your friends or family members is to stay home.”
Dr. Gaul says, “Obviously people are in the hospital because there's something wrong, and when a person is ill, we don't want them also exposed to influenza.”
Of course it's not just those who are sick who should be taking extra precautions to avoid getting the flu. Doctor Gaul says everyone should be sanitizing their hands properly, coughing into their elbows rather than their hands, and even maybe avoiding places where there are lots of people.
“People have asked me about staying away from crowded areas, and I think that's very reasonable,” says Dr. Gaul.
Because with how fast the flu is spreading, it's tough to avoid it and hard for doctors to keep up with the amount of patients.
Dr. Gaul says, “I'd love to be able to see every single one of my patients when they need to be seen, but we have just been overwhelmed by the number of sick people...people sick with flu symptoms. We simply can not continue to see all the other patients that need and wish to be seen as well as everybody who's sick with this terrible influenza.”
Altru has also started a nurse phone line from 8 AM to 5 PM Mondays through Fridays. Nurses will be available to answer questions and help patients determine whether they should see a doctor. The number is 701-780-4247.
During non-business hours, you can call Altru's general line for up-to-date flu information.