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Flu outbreak puts strain on hospitals' intensive-care units

By Toby Manthey

This article was published February 28, 2008 at 6:00 a.m.

Are you taking special precautions to avoid the flu?

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Many intensive-care units at central Arkansas hospitals have been full or near capacity in recent weeks because of a heavy outbreak of influenza combined with other seasonal illnesses.

As a result, smaller hospitals are waiting longer than usual for approval to send patients to larger facilities, and patients at larger hospitals are stuck longer in emergency rooms before they can be moved to ICU beds.

Baptist Health Medical Center-Heber Springs, for example, has been forced to delay transfer of critically ill patients to centers in Little Rock, Baptist Health System spokesman Mark Lowman said.

"Their delays are in terms of additional hours, not days," Lowman said. He said the wait times were "quite a bit longer than normal," but he couldn't say how much longer.

Several hospitals, including Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, believe this year's flu season has struck them hard.

For more information see today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Subscribers can read the story here on ArkansasOnline.

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