Phoenix ERs are 'slammed' with patients

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Arizona health officials expect the flu in the state to be labeled "widespread" by the CDC.

Doctors at Valley hospitals report full emergency rooms, due to flu and respiratory viruses.

"We have people up and down the hallway right now. Emergency departments are doing the best they can," Maricopa Medical Center's Dr. Jason Knight said.

Dr. Knight said Maricopa Medical and other Phoenix hospitals have, at times, had to divert patients elsewhere this week.

"Because there's such a huge volume of patients this year, we've run out of physical beds in the hospital," he said.

Banner Health officials say they also have a plan to divert patients to less-crowded facilities, if necessary.

"We have the ability to absorb a surge of patients across our facilities.  We have a central transfer center, which allows us to do that really well,"  Banner's Dr. Marjorie Bessel told 3TV.

In addition to the flu and respiratory viruses, many patients are seeing their doctors about a nagging cold.

"It's been lasting them two or three weeks, just keeps going and going, but unfortunately antibiotics aren't going to help it," Dr. Knight said.

Medicine will, on the other hand, help patients suffering the aches and fever associated with influenza.  Doctors say the earlier a patient seeks treatment, the more effective it can be.