So far, the flu has hit North Texas quite hard, with 35 deaths this season. And the wintry weather and icy conditions announced for later this week certainly won’t help. With that in mind, Fort Worth's John Peter Smith Hospital is setting up two new satellite clinics available for residents of North Texas who believe they have symptoms.
The hospital launched these roving clinics at first to serve the homeless, the part of the population most susceptible to the disease in these conditions but is now expanding to everyone as the epidemic seems to spread without slowing down.
Dr. Joel Hunt, heading the hospital's street medicine program, claims that normally those clinics stop around Christmas, but this season there was a need for a January relaunch: “With the resurgence, or the devastation, really, from the flu, we thought why not try it again?”
In the satellite clinics, patients that believe they experience symptoms can get quick access to flu shots and tests as well as prescriptions for antiviral medication like Tamiflu.
Hospital spokesperson Diana Brodeur explained: “They can go upstairs to the clinic, come downstairs to the pharmacy, and they can walk out with all the treatment and go home and get better.”
“Flu can sometimes, untreated, turn into something else, so it's a nice opportunity for them to check up on people.”
The fact that on Monday some 400 people went to the ER, up from an average of 330 patients per day, shows the need to expand the facilities.
“When everyone is talking about the flu and it's on everyone's minds, you can see people walking in with masks, and you can see people, visitors, even reaching for that hand sanitizer,” Ms. Brodeur comments.
“It's always top of mind with our staff, but it's nice to see it top of mind with every single person that's walking into this environment.”