Surge of Respiratory Illnesses Packs Regional Hospitals

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ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now ) — If you visit emergency rooms, pack your patience. Hospitals in our region are filling up, as respiratory viruses infect thousands of people in our area, with some catching multiple viruses at the same time.

Cold weather always brings about a busy season at local hospitals, and this year’s surge is especially significant.

“They talk about the tripledemic. We are basically having it right now,” said Dr. Nancy Weissbach of AHN St. Vincent.

At both UPMC Hamot and AHN St. Vincent, beds are filling quickly, as covid, flu and RSV patients require extended medical care.

“We have most of our beds filled,” she said. “We are still able to accommodate all of the patients that are coming in, and we work through it.“

If you need immediate care, you’ll get it, but experts at both hospitals say if you don’t need? to go to the emergency room, don’t go.

Patients with non-life-threatening illnesses will likely wait long times and get prescriptions that might even be available over the phone.

“We encourage people to use urgent care centers, to think about going to a primary care physician, to use telemedicine,“ said UPMC Hamot’s Chief Nursing Officer James Donnelly.

With illnesses spreading, prevention is key, and that starts with a shot.

“We always say, every year, vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate,” Dr. Weissbach said. “The influenza vaccine although not 100% effective will often cut your chances of getting influenza by half if not more, depending on the year.“

From there, common sense takes over.

Avoid sick people, and don’t put others at risk to make sure local hospitals have the staff and space they need.


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