Grady Memorial Hospital just launched a first-of-its-kind ED for flu patients—in its parking lot

A Georgia hospital on Tuesday launched a mobile emergency room to treat patients with influenza symptoms.

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CDC data suggest the United States' current flu season is poised to be the worst in nearly a decade, with nearly every state reporting widespread flu activity as of Jan. 20. The influx of patients has strained hospitals nationwide, prompting many to adopt innovative solutions—such as parking lot "surge tents" and restrictions on visitors and certain non-emergency surgeries—to care for flu patients while reducing the risk that the virus will spread.

Grady Memorial Hospital's mobile ED

In Georgia, Grady Memorial Hospital has taken a unique approach to treat the record number of flu patients seeking care at the hospital's ED: running a first-of-its-kind mobile flu unit. The unit, known as Carolinas MED-1, is located in Grady Memorial's parking lot and features 14 patient beds, a two-bed operating room, and technology that allows physicians to view patient records. The unit, which Grady Memorial is contracting from Carolinas HealthCare System, typically is used in disaster relief efforts, Becker's Hospital Review reports.

Hany Atallah, chief of emergency medicine at Grady Health System, hopes the unit will reduce ED patients at the hospital by at least 100 patients per day, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Grady Memorial spokesperson Denise Simpson said the hospital has contracted MED-1 for at least 30 days, at a cost of around $200,000. That figure does not include supply or staffing costs, Simpson said (Gehlbach, WSB-TV, 1/30; AP/ABC News, 1/30; Paavola, Becker's Hospital Review, 1/30; Hart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/29).

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