Health officials are encouraging people to use virtual walk ins instead of emergency admist rise in respiratory illnesses

Northern Light Health has seen an increase in patients with respiratory illnesses.
Northern Light Health has seen an increase in patients with respiratory illnesses.
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 4:12 PM EST
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Dover-Foxcroft, Maine (WABI) - With RSV, The Flu and Covid-19 on the rise, health experts are sharing tips that can help you gather with your family safely during the holidays.

It may just start with a sniffle or cough until your symptoms worsen making you sick for a prolonged period.

Bigger gatherings mean the more chance for exposure to one of the viruses and more chance to spread sickness.

If you are unwell, stay home to prevent getting others sick.

Using masks and washing your hands increases your protection from getting sick.

However according to MD, vice president and senior physician executive Dave McDermott, he says the most effective way is to get vaccinated.

“The spread the most important thing to help with the spread for COVID and for influenza is to get immunized. Unfortunately, I believe less than half of the people in in Maine have yet to half of the eligible people in the state of Maine have received their influenza vaccines for the year. So getting immunized is a really important step for that,” said McDermott.

“We are still at a point where we have the capacity to take care of people who are coming in but the wait times are longer and our our real goal here is to try to encourage people who don’t truly need to be in an emergency department to get their care in an outpatient setting that’s less intense than that. Then and what that does is helps to preserve the capacity of the emergency department staff for those people who truly are sicker.”

They say with illnesses spreading, hospitals are seeing an increase in patients all across Maine in the emergency rooms.

In most cases, individuals can recover at home and let the infection run its course, but for COVID-19 and influenza, effective oral anti-viral treatments may help people feel better, faster.

Health officials are encouraging patients to go to contact their primary care practitioner first and to only go to the ER for severe illnesses.

Doctor McDermott also suggests online health programs like virtual walk-in care where patients can be evaluated at home by a heath practitioner.

If you would like more information on how to access virtual walk-in care, you can go to for more information.