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Area doctors' offices, hospitals packed with sick patients

(MCT) — BLOOMINGTON — Families shared more than traditions on Christmas.

Influenza, upper respiratory infections, gastroenteritis and a respiratory virus in children have been spreading throughout Central Illinois. That means many people have spent the days since Christmas dealing with fever, sinus congestion, cough and sore throat while doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and hospital emergency departments have been swamped trying to treat those symptoms.

“Immediate Care has been very busy,” Advocate BroMenn spokesman Eric Alvin said of Advocate Medical Group Immediate Care in Bloomington. The emergency department at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Normal, has been swamped also, but those numbers are typical for this time of year, Alvin said.

OSF PromptCare locations in Bloomington, Normal and Pontiac also reported on Thursday that they have treated many patients this week.

OSF Saint Joseph Medical Center emergency department and PromptCare locations in Bloomington-Normal have experienced high patient volumes for a week or two, said Dr. Roberto Cipolla at OSF.

PromptCare at OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center, Pontiac, was “extremely busy” Wednesday, treating 59 patients, and were on track to treat about the same number of patients on Thursday, spokeswoman Pam Meiner said.

“It is busier than last year,” Meiner said. “They are seeing a variety of illnesses, including upper respiratory illnesses, GI (gastrointestinal illness), influenza, and they have seen two or three cases of RSV,” Meiner said.

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) — a common cause of respiratory infections in children — may cause hospitalization in infants and is hitting earlier than usual this winter, Meiner said.

Saint James’ emergency department had treated 82 patients between Christmas morning and midday Thursday. Nineteen of them had influenza or an upper respiratory infection and two had RSV, said emergency department director Susanna Legner. She said those numbers were comparable to last year.

Stay healthy

Here’s how to reduce the spread of germs:

- If you’re healthy, get a flu shot if you haven’t already, stay away from people who are sick, practice frequent hand washing, get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids, cover your coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing drinking glasses and utensils.

- If you’re sick, stay home (or if you must go out, stay away from people as much possible); avoid grocery stores and restaurants; avoid contact with infants, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system; and treat your symptoms with rest, hydration and appropriate medicine. If your symptoms don’t improve after 24 hours, call your doctor.

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