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Texas Medical Center leaders fearful of what a bad flu season would do to strained hospitals, staff

Doctors fear hospitalizations may go up
Doctors fear hospitalizations may go up

HOUSTON – There are a few factors that make us vulnerable to a bad flu season, and the main reason could be that people aren’t wearing masks like they did this time last year.

There was almost no flu last year, meaning our immune systems weren’t exposed to the virus and there’s some theory that, that could make us weak to whatever strain goes around this year.

While it is just speculation, at this point, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

The situation inside hospitals is depressing and remains bad.

It’s true the numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations are stabilizing, but that’s nothing to celebrate considering how high they’ve plateaued.

While this surge is often compared to last winter, President and CEO of Harris Health, Esmaeil Porsa, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“Harris Health System over the last five days have had the most number of COVID-related deaths ever throughout any five day period in the pandemic. So yes, patients are younger. Patients have less past medical history. They are still dying of COVID-19,” Porsa said.

What are we going to do?

The solution isn’t as simple as bringing in more staff. Porsa said there’s no place to put them, claiming he’s used every inch of hospital space to treat patients and there’s simply no room left.

Every hospital in TMC is echoing the same thing: there’s no more room for sick people and a dwindling momentum from staff.

“The public needs to understand that they are exhausted. They are running on fumes and it is extremely difficult to find the energy day in and day out to care for people, particularly people who are mostly unvaccinated in a time where they come to work realizing this could’ve been avoided had we just linked arms and done the right thing and gotten vaccinated,” President and CEO of Houston Methodist, Marc Boom, said.

With about a month to go until the start of flu season, hospital leaders say they need as much of your cooperation to bring down hospitalizations as you can give.

“We are struggling right now with the patient load that’s coming at us. I can’t even imagine having a bad flu season,” Porsa said.

“Both the flu and COVID at the same time is an extremely deadly combination, and so, we really are going to need to make sure that everybody gets their flu shots and continues common sense behaviors to keep things under control,” Boom said.

This is the time of year pharmacies and doctors’ offices will start administering flu shots because it takes two weeks for your system to build full immunity.