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Across Whatcom County flu is taking a toll on people and medical facilities

January 29, 2018

BELLINGHAM, WA –Local health care facilities, including PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, are experiencing full waiting rooms and a high demand for treatment for flu and other circulating illnesses. To help ease the crowding at local clinics and the hospital, Whatcom County Health Department and PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center are asking people who have mild flu symptoms to contact their primary health care provider before going to the hospital emergency room.

“We’ve seen a large influx of flu patients, causing lengthy delays for patients in need of emergent care,” said Worth Everett, MD, medical director of Trauma and Emergency Services at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. “If you can postpone care until the morning, a medical clinic is a more appropriate place to be seen.”

The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick. In most cases, people experiencing mild flu symptoms without high risk of flu complications should stay home and avoid contact with others except to get medical care.

Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and diarrhea and vomiting. Most people with the flu have mild or moderate illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. More flu recommendations, including information for those with high risk of flu complications, can be found on the CDC’s influenza website.

If you have any of the emergency warning signs below, you should consider going to the emergency room.

In children:

•  Fast breathing or trouble breathing

•  Bluish skin color

•  Not drinking enough fluids

•  Not waking up or not interacting

•  Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

•  Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

•  Fever with a rash

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away if an infant has any of these signs:

•  Being unable to eat

•  Has trouble breathing

•  Has no tears when crying

•  Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

In adults:

•  Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

•  Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

•  Sudden dizziness

•  Confusion

•  Severe or persistent vomiting

•  Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough


The most recent data on influenza activity in Whatcom County is available at the health department’s website and is currently updated every Friday.

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Hilary Andrade, Senior Communications Specialist
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center; (360) 788-8142

Melissa Morin, Communications Specialist
Whatcom County Health Department; (360) 778-6022          


PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center
2901 Squalicum Pkwy
Bellingham, WA 98225