Flu response: Lehigh Valley Hospital sets up mobile ER to serve patients

Posted: 7:00 PM EST Jan 07, 2013   Updated: 5:15 AM EST Jan 08, 2013

Responding to the worst flu outbreak in several years, one local hospital is setting up a mobile emergency room tent to handle the overflow of flu cases. The tent at Lehigh Valley Hospital's Cedar Crest campus opens Tuesday morning.

You've probably seen plenty of co-workers get sick in your office. You're not alone.

"Right now, we are the midst of an extremely busy flu season," said Terry Burger, LVH's Director of Infection Control and Prevention.

This flu season is so busy that Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest is opening an auxillary emergency room just to handle the overflow. Over the weekend, some patients reported up to seven-hour waits.

"We've had two really mild seasons, so now we're being brutally reminded how bad influenza can be," said Burger.

This year's flu strain is called H3N2. Burger said this year's strain is particularly virulent.

"Even people that have gotten the flu shot can also get ill," she said.

So when is your flu severe enough to head to the hospital?

"Having trouble breathing is a clear sign you need to seek medical attention," said Burger. "If you've got underlying heart disease, and you feel like your symptoms are getting worse, you need to seek medical attention."

The tent will open Tuesday from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. After that, the hospital will decide day-to-day whether to keep it open.