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URBANA — A week ahead of Thanksgiving, respiratory illnesses are already spreading in the local area, a local hospital official said.
Carle Foundation Hospital has been seeing a lot of sick people in its emergency department in the past week, according to Emergency Department Director Holly Cook, who is also a registered nurse.
Are people coming in with COVID-19? RSV? Flu?
“All of the above,” she said.
“We have had incredibly high volumes in our emergency department, with longer than normal wait times in the last week,” Cook said.
That’s due to an increase of people coming in with coughs, low-grade fevers and aches and pain, she said.
Some have needed to be hospitalized, also making the hospital more full than normal over the last week, but Carle has processes in place to handle that, Cook said.
At the start of the week, the volume was more at a normal level, but as of Thursday, the emergency department was starting to see an increase again with longer wait times for patients, according to Carle spokeswoman Brittany Simon.
Since more respiratory illnesses are typical this time of year, there’s a good chance the higher demand on the hospital will continue through the Thanksgiving holiday, Cook said.
While the hospital can accommodate the volume, the public can do a bit of self-triage to make sure an emergency room visit is necessary.
If symptoms aren’t life-threatening, or you’ve just been around sick people and want to get checked out, first call your primary-care doctor’s office, Cook said.
Those with non-life-threatening symptoms who can’t get in to see their doctors in a timely way should turn to convenient-care centers in the community, she said.
Signs that you should seek hospital care include symptoms becoming more severe, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness or numbness, and a fever higher than 103 that doesn’t break with over-the-counter medicine, Cook said.
From there, Cook advises getting back to the basics.
That includes frequent hand-washing and staying home if you’re sick. And if you must go out when you’re sick, wear a face mask and avoid gathering with other people.