The Minnesota Department of Health says four greater Minnesota hospitals have opened centers to deal with a surge in flu patients.
The health department is not identifying the hospitals, but RiverView Hospital in Crookston says it is among the group.
The flu centers are Minnesota's version of the flu tents that have been set up in some southern states. The health department's Jane Braun says flu centers have separate entrances and are used exclusively for assessing and treating patients with mild influenza.
"These flu centers are used to help manage the surge when there's a lot of people with influenza-like illness, so that critically ill patients can still be seen and not be exposed to others, and to really balance the health care system as a whole," she said.
No metro area hospital has opened a special flu center. But some have used overflow clinic space to treat flu patients. Braun says metro hospitals might not need to formally create a flu clinic because many already have extra building capacity.
"This is the beginning of the reports we're hearing about these flu centers opening," she said. "And, you know, it very well could be the peak too. We just cannot predict how the virus is going."