ATLANTA — Grady Memorial Hospital is bringing back a mobile emergency room setup just weeks ahead of when a major influenza outbreak hit just one year earlier.
The Atlanta hospital is once again contracting with Atrium Health's Carolinas MED-1 mobile hospital to help manage potentially high numbers of patients coming to them with the annual ailment.
The unit will be in place on Wednesday afternoon in the hospital parking lot as the state reaches the middle of the season.
In the last flu season, doctors working in this mobile emergency department were able to see about 1,000 flu patients in the first nine days the facility has been here.
In late 2017 and early 2018, Georgia saw a significant influx of "influenza-like illnesses" that far surpassed the percentage of cases reported in the previous seven flu seasons according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outpatient cases peaked in the fifth week of the year and began to diminish almost as quickly as they began.
Within five months of the start of 2018, Georgia had reported more than 150 deaths for the season - four of them children.
Based on new information from the Georgia Department of Health, there have been five flu-related deaths so far in the state - something not yet included in CDC numbers.
► Here are some preventative steps you can take to avoid the flu.
But that doesn't mean the state is in the clear, with flu hospitalizations already beginning to see a significant spike in the metro Atlanta area.
The previous flu season was made worse by the fact that the vaccine was less effective against the H3N2 variation of the flu virus - working roughly 40 percent of the time. And unfortunately, that was the prevalent strain of the flu that year.
For the current season, vaccinations cover H1N1, H3N2 and "Victorian lineage" viruses while four-component vaccines also cover the "Yamagata lineage" virus.