Grady Memorial Hospital has called in reinforcements to help its emergency room handle high patient volume this flu season.
The hospital will start seeing patients in a 14-bed, temporary ER Thursday morning.
“We have a lot of patients who are coming into the emergency department who are in need of medical care. In order to get to our patients as quickly as possible,” said Hany Atallah, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Grady. “That’s why we really brought in this resource.”
The mobile unit is a small hospital on wheels made of tents and trailers set up in the shadow of Grady’s downtown Atlanta hospital.
It’s on loan from Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina, which has deployed it around the country since 2005 to meet emergency medical needs in the wake of events like flooding and hurricanes.
Atallah said Grady has opened up additional shifts to staff the mobile ER and will keep it open month-to-month based on patient demand.
He said his goal is to keep Grady’s waiting room empty at all times, which can be a challenge this time of year.
“It’s flu and flu like illness, as well as people who are just having general medical concerns,” Atallah said. “Our biggest priority is getting to our patients as quickly as possible so that they don’t have to wait.”
It’s the second year in a row Grady has set up the mobile ER. Atallah said doctors can see as many as 100 patients a day in the unit.
Grady has confirmed 170 cases of the flu so far this season. Georgia’s Department of Public Health has linked the virus to 5 deaths since late September.