Charlotte doctors prepare for peak flu season, send help to GA

Hospitals seeing more flu cases

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This time of year, some choose to receive the flu shot.

“He told me I better do it,” Stephanie Catz says, standing by her father.

“For once she listened to her father,” Peter Catz says, laughing.

Some others say it’s not worth it.

“The people that I know that take the flu shot, they say they get sick anyway,” James Fuller says.

So far this year, between six and seven million people have had the flu, and in North Carolina, 16 people have died from it.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Atrium Health’s Dr. David Cosenza says.

Cosenza and his other virtual care doctors say they saw local flu numbers rise before the official statistics did.

“Maybe doing 20 virtual [patients] a day to 60,” he says.

The doctors expect those numbers to peak in two to three weeks, and will get more resources then, they say, for those online services.

“That way [patients] don’t come to the waiting room and accidentally somebody who’s there for a routine follow up, ends up getting sick,” Cosenza says.

In Charlotte, area hospitals including Atrium just declared the flu season. That means seven percent of emergency patients are showing flu-like symptoms. The number will likely rise to 10 percent soon, which is when hospitals will prohibit some guests and children from visiting.

Atrium Health is also sending resources to Atlanta to help with the many cases there.

“I’ve heard down in Georgia it’s pretty bad,” Atrium’s Kristy Haynes says.

She and her team will be there at least 30 days, to help with the flu and the hundreds of thousands of people coming in for the Super Bowl.

“It reminds [the team] of why they got into healthcare,” she says. “You get to go to a different environment and help out a community that really needs your support.”

In Charlotte, Dr. Cosenza insists, there’s still time for that flu shot. He says he has never met anyone who had it once, and didn’t get the shot next time.

“You ask them, would they really want to go through five or six days of feeling really bad, again,” he says.

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