It comes as no surprise to me that the hospitals are full in the midst of this year's flu season. The hospitals have been full since the summer much of the time.
Those of us who work as physicians in the small-town hospitals of Western Washington know this because when we try to transfer patients who need it to go to a hospital with more complex medical capabilities, we have a harder and harder time of it. The area hospitals have spent more money, hired more people, paid the management and the employees higher wages, but they have not increased the number of beds to keep up with the population.
The reasons are numerous, with government and hospital bureaucracy, endless regulations, and greed being a good start. It is time for some concrete work on this issue, and at the start of what looks like a very bad flu season, there is no time to lose.