Kids with H1N1 Camp Out at Hospital

Since April, 44 people in Texas have died from the H1N1 virus. Now, some parts of the state are being overrun by people who have it. And one hospital in Austin has taken an unusual step to treat this new wave of patients.

CBS News correspondent Don Teague reports that the Dell Children's Medical Center has been bombarded with patients complaining of flu-like symptoms. So to deal with the influx, the hospital has set up tents outside.

Teague reports doctors at the hospital are seeing more than 200 people a day for flu symptoms alone.

CBSNews.com Special Report: H1N1


Dr. Pat Crocker, chief of Emergency Medicine at Dell Children's Medical Center, said the tent triage area is used to treat "very low acuity patients." He said the tent serves as a place where people can get the evaluation and care that they need.

Patients, Teague added, are checked for symptoms, tested for flu and treated with Tamiflu, if necessary. The tent takes pressure off the primary emergency room, and helps get help faster for kids with flu symptoms, Teague said.

The tents were initially set up, Teague reported, because computer models indicated their flu situation was about to get worse.

Crocker added on "The Early Show" the hospital is concerned about the volume of patients.

"We can scale this up," he said. "But I think we're just at the very front of this. And we'll probably take four weeks to peak."

This giant influx of patients, Crocker said, aren't from panic, but rather legitimate health concerns.

"We have seen a large number of patients. And most of them actually meet the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) criteria for treatment and evaluation," he said.

However, Crocker said many of the people who are coming to the hospital for flu symptoms by and large do not require a hospital stay.

"The nice thing we've learned about the swine(H1N1) flu virus is it seems to be a mild to moderate flu," he said. Most people really don't even need to see a doctor. We're starting to see a very small increase in the number of flu-related hospital admissions. But it's not been with critically ill patients."

And who is getting sick?

Crocker said the influx is among children under 14 years old, but now, another demographic is being affected.

He said, "We're just starting to see a few cases in the older population."
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.