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Ambulance services being diverted because of flu

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Because of the recent flu outbreak, some ambulance services may be turned away and diverted to other hospitals. Emergency rooms across southeast Wisconsin have been asking ambulance dispatchers at times to stop sending them patients.

"If they are reaching capacity, they can change their status from open to divert," said Erik Viel.

Dr. Jonathan Rubin, an emergency physician at Froedtert Hospital is putting fears to rest. He says diverting ambulances is actually a common practice year round. By doing so, he says it ensures patients go to hospitals that are not swamped -- and that allows for quicker treatment.

"It really helps balance the needs of the hospital and the patients that are being transported by ambulance," said Dr. Rubin.

During this severe flu season, hospitals say they've hit the "divert" button more than usual. But officials say thanks to the system, everyone has been able to get the attention they need.