MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison's three largest hospitals are teaming up to keep their emergency rooms clear of patients complaining of flu-like illness.
Emergency rooms at Meriter, St. Mary's, and UW Hospital are filling up with people worried about high fever, cough, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. Many are leaving without a prescription for anything more than chicken soup, plenty of rest, and fluids.
Because people who are normally healthy are not being treated for H1N1 virus, doctors say stay home and take mom's advice: rest, drink fluids, and take acetaminophen for fever.
People who are in high risk groups should call their doctor if they develop flu-like symptoms:
· Pregnant women
· Children younger than five
· People with underlying health conditions who might develop complications
· People 65 and older
The Centers for Disease Control recommend emergency medical care for people with the following symptoms:
· Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or pain in the chest
· Sudden dizziness or confusion
· Persistent vomiting
Additionally, children with the following symptoms should be brought to the hospital for emergency care:
· Trouble breathing or rapid breathing
· Bluish skin color
· Difficulty waking
· Flu-like symptoms that improve then return with a cough or fever
In an effort to best protect their most vulnerable patients, Madison hospitals are asking anyone who has signs of sickness including fever, cough, nausea, chills, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea to avoid visiting relatives or friends in the hospital until 24 hours after symptoms subside. Flu is easily spread when people are in close contact, and the highest risk groups tend to be patients already in the hospital.
UW Hospital has screeners trained to recognize the signs of influenza like symptoms and to help visitors and patients entering the hospital. St. Mary's and Meriter are asking visitors to their birthing and intensive care units a series of screening questions to make sure they are not ill, and provide visitors with a badge that changes every day. The hospitals will continue monitoring the spread of illness in the community and adjust their plans accordingly.