LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The emergency rooms with Norton Healthcare are seeing more patients with the flu, but leaders with Norton say many of these cases should be referred to primary care offices instead.

“People come to the ER, their waiting times are going to be longer," said Dr. Joshua Honaker, the Chief Medical Administrative Officer of Norton Medical Group. "It’s going to be harder to access the care they’re looking for."

Honaker suggests going to a primary care doctor, urgent care or setting up an online video appointment first. With MyNortonChart, anyone can have an online doctor’s appointment. You do not need to be a current Norton patient to use this service. Honaker said for patients with the flu, a video appointment helps keep that person at home instead of out spreading germs at a doctor’s office.

“The video visit is very effective,” Honaker said. “For the clinician to see you on the video screen, it’s often as effective as a face-to-face visit. If you have a video visit, it may be as simple as a prescription being given based on your symptoms alone.”

With a video visit, you do not need to take the flu test in order for the doctor to prescribe something like Tamiflu. But there are situations to which the flu can reach a serious level and going to the ER is necessary.

Honaker said if a patient with the flu is experiencing shortness of breath or is dehydrated, then he or she should go to the hospital. And people who are more likely to experience severe flu symptoms, develop complications and potentially die include the elderly, young children and people with asthma.

Honaker said there are a few main things people can do to avoid the flu still.

“Getting the flu shot,” he said. “Second of all, good hand hygiene. And definitely, if you’re sick, limiting your contact with others. And if you’re well, limit your contact with the sick.”

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