DANVILLE, Va. - Outside the entrance to the emergency department at Sovah Health's Danville campus, you'll find a converted car-hauler trailer.
Go inside, and you'll find a scaled-down version of the emergency department -- three exam tables separated by curtains, a cart full of medical supplies, and computers.
"This was actually a brain child of the staff," said Dr. Meredith Sutton, the hospital's emergency department director.
Sutton said staff members had heard about larger metropolitan areas doing something similar.
The hospital's clinic opened Monday and has already seen dozens of patients.
"We are actually able to see patients in this area who present to the department within certain criteria with flu-like illness. We can see up to five or six at a time," Sutton said.
The goal is to reduce the chance of flu spreading through the hospital and free up space in the actual emergency department.
"We've pretty much doubled in our flu cases from last month," Sutton said. "So just in the last couple of weeks, we have seen about 150 patients who have tested positive for flu. Most of those are coming through the emergency department."
The hospital has also seen a spike in flu-like illnesses.
Centra, in Lynchburg, saw 107 flu cases last week and, as of Wednesday, has seen over 500 cases this season.
At Carilion, in Roanoke, Dr. Thomas Kerkering said roughly 4,000 people have come in with the flu this season.
"I'm not sure that we've seen this many cases in quite a few years," Kerkering said.
As of Wednesday, the hospital had no plans to set up a clinic like the one in Danville.
The clinic is open on Mondays and Tuesdays and can be used by anyone older than 6 months and younger than 65.
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