LUMBERTON — People who are not experiencing life-threatening illnesses should not seek care at Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department, which is being overwhelmed with people suffering from flu.
“We are treating very high volumes of patients seeking care from our Emergency Department, many for conditions that could be treated in a setting which is more appropriate, such as an urgent care center or their primary care physician’s office, where patients could be treated quicker with less expense for the patient,” said Joann Anderson, president and CEO of the medical center.
Alternative medical facilities offered by SRMC include Southeastern Urgent Care of Lumberton, Southeastern Urgent Care of Pembroke and The Clinic at Walmart.
“Patients who are experiencing emergencies will continue to get exceptional care through our emergency room,” said Dr. John Reed, medical director for Southeastern’s Emergency Department. “However, it is those patients who could be treated appropriately at other types of medical clinics who experience long waits and become frustrated with the Emergency Department process. We hope to steer these patients in a direction that is more appropriate for their medical condition.”
Southeastern has recently seen an increase in patients with the influenza virus. According to the medical center’s Infection Control Department, 63 patients have tested positive for influenza during the past 11 days.
“According to the CDC, flu activity has increased substantially nationwide,” said Dr. Obiefuna Okoye, an Infection Control specialist at the medical center. “It has reached a national baseline level in some areas and it is strongly recommended that those who have not received the flu vaccine should do so immediately.”
Southeastern’s primary care and urgent care clinics, as well as The Clinic at Walmart and Southeastern Mobile Medical, offer influenza vaccinations. Many locations, such as CVS and Walgreens, also accept patients without an appointment. The out-of-pocket cost for a flu shot at the medical center and its affiliate clinics is $20. At CVS a flu shot is $34 and at Walgreens it is $32. For a complete listing of facilities and phone numbers, log on to www.srmc.org <http://www.srmc.org>.
The medical center advises basic steps to avoid the flu, such as washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
“Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose,” Okoye said. “Avoid sick people. Stay home if you are sick. Most of all if you’re really sick, call your health-care provider.”