East Texas has been hit hard with influenza this year. So hard, that local hospitals are following medical divert protocols. 

Hospitals are encouraging patients to visit primary care physicians and urgent care facilities, due to the high number of severe flu cases this year.

"We're seeing very severe cases and I think one of the best indices of that is hospitals are full,"  UT Health Northeast Doctor David Shafer told KLTV. "In fact, some of them are not able to take additional patients because every bed in the hospital is full due to people with complications of the flu."

Medical divert is not keeping the hospitals from treating patients, and according to Doctor Jordan Smith at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances, this situation is normal during a high flu season.

"What this means is that ambulances are alternated between the two major Tyler hospitals, but walk-ins are still taken," Rebecca Berkley, ETMC Director of public relations said to KLTV. "Wait times are long in the emergency department. In the past week, ETMC Tyler has had 236 positive flu cases. Other options to consider if you are sick are ETMC South Broadway, ED or Urgent care centers, and seeing your primary care physician."

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