Local News

Local Hospital Diverts Patients Due to Flu Outbreak

Posted March 22, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— For the second day, a Fayetteville hospital is having to turn away patients. A flu outbreak has filled Cape Fear Valley Medical Center to capacity.

"We're treating those that we can," says Clinton Weaver, spokesperson for Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. "Those that we don't have the correct type of bed for we will stabilize and transfer to another facility."

Tuesday, seven patients were diverted across town to Highsmith Rainey Hospital.

Cape Fear Valley is accepting local trauma cases, patients with chest pain and pediatric emergencies. Women in labor are also being admitted along with some general pediatric cases. Most of the elective surgeries scheduled for Wednesday have been canceled.

Like other area hospitals, flu victims overran the medical center. Hospital workers say it was the worst situation they have seen in more than four decades.

"I've worked here for 12 years, and never in my career have we had to divert patients to other hospitals," Weaver said on Tuesday. "This is a first for me."

This is the first time in the 43 year history of the 500+ bed hospital that some patients were turned away.

"From the public's perspective, things aren't really any different," Weaver said. "They should continue to call 911 for assistance. We'll do the job from there in terms of determining their condition, getting them stabilized and getting them where they need to go."

The hospital is trying to make room for patients and expects 40 beds to free up Wednesday.

"We are constantly going throughout the house, on the floors to make sure we don't have additional patients who can be discharged or transferred themselves," says Dr. Greg Taylor, director of Cape Fear Medical. "So on an hour by hour basis we have updates on the bed situation."

Hospital leaders says an increase in Fayetteville's population is one of the reasons the hospital is filling up so quickly. They hope that will be resolved on May 1, when they are supposed to take over Highsmith Rainey Hospital, adding an additional 133 beds to the Cape Fear Valley Medical System.