MedStar Considers Taxi Service Due to Surge in Flu Symptom Calls

FORT WORTH The large number of 911 calls from people with H1N1-like symptoms may lead the city s ambulance provider to enlist help from taxi drivers. “We are seeing a tremendous increase in the number of flu and flu-like-symptom calls,” said Lara Kohl, spokeswoman for MedStar, the sole emergency services provider for Fort Worth and 14 surrounding cities. “Many times people with flu or flu-like symptoms don t require emergency care.”

In October 2008, MedStar answered 85 flu-related calls, Kohl said. In the first 25 days of this month, there were 239 flu- related calls. “It puts stress on our already-overloaded system,” she said. A MedStar advisory board asked the emergency provider to recommend different approaches to treating these patients rather than overwhelming emergency rooms. A decision won t be made until the board meets in December.

Kohl said one option being discussed is not transporting patients who don t require emergency care. Under the current policy, the ambulance service transports patients to a hospital if they request it. “We are considering changing that policy for the flu season,” she said.

Read More, MedStar may ask taxi services for help as 911 calls about flu-like symptoms surge