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Flu reports spur influx at emergency rooms

January 10, 2013

PARKERSBURG— With an outbreak of the flu being reported throughout the area, the emergency departments at Camden Clark Medical Center have seen an influx of people over the past few days....

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Jan-10-13 6:46 AM

The emergency services in this area fail to meet the needs of the public. They knew this situation was coming and once again they failed to prepare for it. At no time should the ER services be backed up eight hours or more to treat any person that comes to them for help. What would happen if a chemical accident happened in this area and suddenly one hundred or more persons required medical treatment and showed up at the ER door? They can do a lot better with planned response to "crisis level needs".

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Jan-10-13 8:25 AM

For 99% of folks the flu does not deserve a trip to the emergency room. Too many people forget that they should have a relationship with a regular doctor and they can call that doctor and be advised as to what needs to be done. Even in the evenings and weekends all doctors have a call center that will take your message and either the doctor or a collegue or a PA or a nurse will call you back.

But instead folks will run to the emergency room and clog it up so true emergencies like heart attacks, car accidents, and broken bones have to wait.

I was recently told by someone who follows this practice of running someone in his family at least once of week for things like constipation....."but it didn't cost me anything"

My response was .....but it cost me !!!! I am the hardworking middle class citizen and my taxes pay for you to run to the emergency room for stupid stuff.

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Jan-10-13 8:44 AM

I absolutely agree with you, 4H4life. Too many people congest the emergency room with non-emergency complaints. It is common knowledge that the flu is a virus, and therefore the only thing that can be done is to treat the symptoms and let it run its course. The ER should be used in cases of actual emergency: car accidents, heart attacks, ailments that are life-threatening, etc. We have plenty of urgent care facilities in the area to cope with non-emergency ailments, and yes, people have a responsibility to have an ongoing relationship with a primary physician. Going to the ER for something like constipation is RIDICULOUS. Drink some prune juice, take an enema...for God's sake, don't take an emergency physician's attention away from someone who ACTUALLY needs it, simply because you're "full of it".

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Jan-10-13 9:30 AM

'Reality' is correct, people don't have a 'regular' doctor, or insurance, or money to pay a Quick Care...the ER is their doctors office. CCMH KNOWS this, yet they still decided to close the St. Joe's facility, further clogging an already slow service ER unit. There will always be those people, as well, that go to the ER with the can't fix stupid. But CCMH is NOT equipped to handle the vigorous Flu season...AT ALL...and they should know the poverty in this area is going to flood the system anyway, on a GOOD day! I would go to Marietta too, except my doctor is HERE!

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Jan-10-13 9:36 AM

I agree with the other two posters below me, but if you don't have insurance and are self pay, no family doctor will accept you into their practice. It was George W. that told everyone to go to their ER and they will treat everyone if you don't have insurance. Many can't afford OTC medicine and the system tells them to go to the ER for everything. It's not their fault. It's time for the hospitals and doctors to step up to the plate or turn those people from their doors and ignore their problems. No, there is too much federal money being given to hospitals and doctors to let that happen. It's all about the money, peroid.

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Jan-10-13 9:52 AM

The local Family Dollar sells OTC medications that will treat flu symptoms for anywhere between $2-$5. I'm a broke, single working mother of three children, and even I can afford that. The only time someone should be heading to the ER for flu is if they have another condition that the flu could make worse (i.e. diabetes or heart disease) or if they're experiencing complications, like shortness of breath. Otherwise, there is nothing that the ER can do for you that you can't do for yourself at, drink fluids, treat symptoms. I went without health insurance for 10 years, and only went to the ER on three occasions: my appendix burst, I needed stitches in my finger, and I had a 9-foot fall flat on my back. THOSE are things for which one seeks emergency assistance--not things like constipation and flu. I know what it's like to be uninsured, and it stinks. Doesn't mean that you get to congest the ER with frivolous ailments, and divert attention from people with ACTUAL emergencies.

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Jan-10-13 9:57 AM

For example... two of my sons have congenital heart issues, one of whom has only one kidney that has been compromised. If they get the flu (neither can get the flu shot due to their conditions, it's contraindicated) and become short of breath, they can die of congestive heart failure. THAT'S an emergency. If I take my ill child who has a pressing need due to his heart condition for emergency care, and he has to wait because you've taken up a bed with your constipation, I'm liable to flip you out of that bed and shove my foot in your rear, thereby solving the problem for both of us.

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Jan-10-13 10:22 AM

JBennett... how the heck did they hosptial "fail to meet the needs"? until a few weeks ago the nation was told that the vaccination was a good match for this years strain. You have a axe to grind, don't grind it on the ED, grind it on the people that come in to get a script for Ibuprofen insted of paying $5.00 at the store. Or better yet, these white trash teenagers and young adults that come in for a pregnancy test instead of buying a $2.00 test kit at dollar general. No, instead they run up a $500 bill that the tax payer has to pay up and keeps really ill folks from being seen by the doctors. You need to direct your anger where it needs to go... at the people that abuse the system. I work there, I know, almost all of these people are welfare and would rather have the taxpayer pay a bill then spend 5 dollars out of pocket. I say make EVERYONE including ME pay $50.00 when you walk in the door (non-life threatening), then lets see how many white trash abuse the place.

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Jan-10-13 10:38 AM

Hippie, you're right on there. My health insurance already charges me a $50 emergency room co-pay if there is no admission as a result of the ER visit. I used to know a family that was on every government assistance program available that would visit the ER weekly for one petty reason or another. It was like a field trip to them! Highly frustrating to the other patients who REALLY needed to care, and even moreso for the staff that would have preferred to give their attentions to the ones who were ACTUALLY in need. Not to mention, yes, what it costs those of us who get to foot the bill for their visits. It's infuriating.

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Jan-10-13 10:55 AM

needed *the* care...sorry, thinking faster than I'm typing.

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Jan-10-13 11:00 AM

It's a known fact that CCMH has eliminated positions and cut pay for LPN's, it's become ALL ABOUT PROFITS, period. Their service is awful, not due to the great folks that work there, but because of the staff cuts and constant drive to 'lower costs' for the corporation. Wonderful nurses from St. Joe's were put out of work or offered substantially lower pay to keep a crappy job. What do you expect when that happens? That facility is NOT going to get any better with the closing of St. Joe's, it will only get worse. There will ALWAYS be idiots that go to the ER with a hang I said, you can't fix stupid. But the level of service at that ER has been crappy for years and years.

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Jan-10-13 11:03 AM

Here is one for you Mack76. One night in the ED about five years ago, a "mother" (and I use that term lightly) brought her whole set of kids, four I believe into the ED. Said one was sick but since she was here, can you just look at all of them... WOW! That is just the tip of the iceberg. "my tooth hurts", "I may be pregnant", "I don't have any pills", "I have a fever of 99.2", or my two all time favorites, both welfare. One, lady had a pimple on her arm (not kidding), she came to the ED for a pimple. Second, the "boyfriend" had a drip from his lower parts so he wanted to be checked for STD, then his girlfriend decided to be checked too. Again, not kidding, tie up two ED beds for STD??? Our lawmakers allowed this to happen when they decided that these people don't have to pay any co-pay like working people do. I would guess, and this is a guess but I am sure I am fairly close, 80% of the visits in the ED could be seen in ur

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Jan-10-13 11:09 AM

Mack. LPN positions were not useful in many respects (not all) because the federal government have forced made so many assessment, charting, and medication responsibilities at the RN level. MANY hospital in the nation are going to all RN. It isn't a CCMH or SJH thing, it is the changes in the system. Do I agree, well I don't write policies at the federal level. I don't have a clue about any cut in pay for SJ staff, none that I know of (and I know many) ever said that to me. I think (and you know what they say about opinions), if the ED was not overrun by "stupid", it would work fine. You can't afford to staff for "stupid", you have to staff for needs (again, my opinion). I think in five or six years, when there are modern expanded services in the valley, everyone will say "why couldn't it have happened sooner". But for a third time, just my opinion. I gotta get to Charleston... Have a good day!

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Jan-10-13 11:15 AM

Brooks, I understand where you're coming from, and I agree that the area definitely needs more than just CCMC to fulfill its hospital and emergency care needs. I was also sickened by the closing of St. Joe's. As for LPNs, it is now a nationwide trend that this position be phased out because all hospitals want to do more with less. This means more demands being placed on CNAs and RNs, with no need for LPNs. The patient is ultimately the one who suffers, and that is truly shameful. I work in social services for an agency that subsidizes childcare services and have several clients that have already finished or are finishing LPN school just to find that they can't even find a job as one. The best position they can hope for is CNA or a Patient Care Tech, which is NOT what they busted their rears going to school for. Hippie is right in that a facility can't staff for stupid people with petty issues going to the ER for things they darn sure know they shouldn't be.

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Jan-10-13 11:17 AM

Hippie, I wasn't aware that the LPN change was due to policy revisions at the federal level, but I do know that there were changes already being implemented because of the "do more with less" trend that has been seen overwhelmingly across the healthcare board.

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Jan-10-13 11:53 AM

The whole 'do more with less' metality is thanks to the recession and greedy Corporations working people to the max to make up for the positions they chose to 'do away with' to cut costs. The increase in 'right to work' states will only see this trend expand. The fact that Hospitals have been doing it for years is a sin. My fiance spent 47 days in CCMH a decade or more ago...they almost killed him twice..the level of incompetance (hiring young dumb aides) was unreal, and the overwork of the competant and compassionate staff was evident then. I don't expect it has gotten any better. I learned a valuable lesson during that time. If you are extremely ill and need hospitalization, make sure you have an advocate watching out for you...if you don't and aren't well enough to pay attention to what is going on around you...God help you.

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Jan-10-13 12:04 PM

Amen to that, Brooks. Hope your fiance is doing much better. You are right on with your analysis of the overworked competent staff who are doing their best to juggle all of their demands while certain unqualified staff fill in the cracks. I and my children have been inpatient there several times over the course of the last five years, and I wasn't ever wholly impressed by the overall care. Certain staff members really amazed me with their commitment to the patient care, while others stunned me with their lack of compassion, education, and skill.

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Jan-10-13 12:08 PM

Welcome to the new normal for the US economy. People can't afford a doctor, so they go to the ER for everything, because the ER by law has to treat them. The working producers in the economy footing the bill yet again.

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Jan-10-13 12:25 PM

To Mack and Hippie, You need to wake up to the fact that the "stupids" as you call them will always be there and you will be mandated by law to serve them and their needs, like it or not. It' time to ramp up our hospitals to serve the public needs and spend some of those government dollars they so eagerly accept to pay their bonases each year. I am from a larger city that has 6 hospitals and not one has over a 4 hour wait at any time night or day in their ED. I was sent into this area to work, and you are right I am not a happy camper with the services provided by the local hospitals and it's not the personel that work there. They are great.

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Jan-10-13 12:26 PM

Well Mack76, you're lucky they were able to figure out it was a ruptured appendix and didn't tell you it was an ulcer and send you home with Zantac. Then you could have had two emergency surgeries removing a large part of your insides, spent two weeks in the ICU as the nurses on duty kept you awake all night shuffling and playing cards, and injecting the wrong drugs that turn into glue in your IV.

You know it's bad when you need a medically trained advocate to stay with you in the hospital to make sure you come out alive.

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Jan-10-13 12:31 PM

Wow Brooks, I hadn't read your post about the advocate before I posted mine. Not surprised though, many people realize this now.

We can blame the hospital as much as those abusing the ER. They aren't going to turn down $500-1000, for taking your temp and feeding you a Tylenol, even if that dollar figure is in the form of a write-off.

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Jan-10-13 12:33 PM

jbennett. I firmly believe that as Bob Dylan said in his song, "the times, they are a-changing".

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Jan-10-13 12:45 PM

Gee Mack, I didn't know you were a female. I thought, going by your screen name, that you were a guy. By the way, how old are you, what color are your eyes, and do you like older men??? (just kidding, lol)

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Jan-10-13 1:21 PM

****@Wally!! It's a nickname I got as a kid, but then, I'm the child of sailors. As for your other questions, I will echo what I saw someone say to you yesterday in that, Wow Wally, you sure are a curious guy! Hahaha! For the record, yes, my man is older. ;)

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Jan-10-13 1:22 PM

Uh oh... PN&S doesn't like the acronym L M A O. Duly noted.

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