Doctor explains why you might see emergency rooms more packed this season

Local Health Alert

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. ( – It’s the season of sneezes, sniffling, and spreading germs, so the emergency rooms could be packed with people battling the flu or another respiratory illness. Dr. Mark Castellaw of Baptist Medical Group said it’s still not too late to get a flu shot. 

“Right now we’re in the middle of the epidemic that we call the ‘Memphis crud’ where were seeing a lot of sinus, bronchitis, even pneumonia, and were at the beginning of the cusp of flu season as well,” Dr. Castellaw said. 

He said the spread of germs making people sick is at its peak, so people need to be diligent with washing their hands and getting an appointment with their primary care doctor if they start feeling sick. 

“This is the time of year –between Thanksgiving and the New Year– when we see all these illnesses. People are coming back together, family gatherings, the weather is getting colder so people are staying inside more the spread of germs is more prevalent,” Castellaw said.

Dr. Castellaw said the emergency rooms are packed because people might not know what their symptoms could be or have waited too long, and it’s turned into something worse. 

“People, who usually aren’t doctors, they get sick and so they really don’t know and you really can’t criticize anyone for going to the emergency room,” Castellaw said. 

He said there are a set number of rooms in the ER, so you might not get a bed away, and there could be a personnel shortage during these months. Dr. Castellaw said nurses and doctors get sick too and need time off. However, he said emergency rooms are just that, and everyone in there is always working hard to make sure you are taken care of. 

“The overwhelming numbers the emergency room has to deal with is very difficult. So, it’s easy to say be patient –or be a good patient and be patient– because that’s really the only option to have,” Castellaw said.

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