When it comes to treating the flu epidemic, it's all hands on deck at medical centers across North Texas. But what happens when those on the proverbial deck get sick, too?
"It is very scary this year," said registered nurse, Amy Shirley. "It's very scary."
Shirley said she and her co-workers are doing anything and everything they can not to get the flu, but some have still gotten sick.
At Baylor, Scott & White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, where she works, they don't keep formal count of their internal flu cases, but anecdotally-- it's a lot.
"Anecdotally, the numbers have been pretty, pretty high," said VP Chief Nursing Officer Val Gokenbach. "Paid a lot of overtime. We’ve had a lot of people come in extra shifts. We’ve had a lot of people stay extra over a few hours, so they can cover for that. That’s been significant through this winter."
At MedStar, supervisor Marshall Sharp said it's been a challenge to keep their employees healthy when they're around the flu all the time. Paramedics are responding to around 18 flu-related cases per day. In fact, the minute MedStar crews find out they're headed on a flu-related call, they immediately put face masks on the paramedics and the patients.
Sharp said they disinfect the ambulances after every flu case, so neither patients nor employees carry it on.
At All Saints, there are hand-sanitizing stations and face masks everywhere, and they're ensuring employees stay home if they're sick. They also require them to receive flu shots.
"It’s a big issue to protect our staff because if they're not here, we can't take care of our patients," Gokenbach said.
And with flu cases quadrupling at All Saints since November, healthy staff members are what they truly need.