Dubuque emergency room sees jump in weather-related injuries - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque emergency room sees jump in weather-related injuries


It's been nearly two weeks since eastern Iowa's first major snow storm of the year, and already, emergency rooms are seeing an up tick in weather-related injuries.

Dr. Mark Singsank works in the emergency room at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque. He said the number of patients the ER sees jumps as much as 10 percent in the five days following a major snow storm.

"Winter always is pretty darn dangerous around here," Singsank said Tuesday in the ER. "It's car accidents during the storm, it's falls, you know, the very next day, and then, you know, come the weekend, then it's all the young people out there snowmobiling, sledding, skiing."

There's one injury, however, that stands out above them all.

"We see a lot of falls in older people, and that's really hard on them," Singsank said. "It's usually when older people just don't believe they're going to get in trouble, like when they go out to walk the dog in the morning or they go out to get the paper, they go out to get the mail. They're doing it in a rush, they're just not prepared and they don't think anything's going to happen to them."

There are products that can help prevent slips and trips on the ice by adding traction to the bottom of a person's shoe. These foot-gripping devices can be found at sporting good stores and some medical supply shops.

Cathy Jury is a seminary student at the University of Dubuque and said she is prepared for winter weather safety.

"We got new tires on just before the winter started, so we feel like having good tires on is important," Jury said. "Taking it slow. Not being in any kind of a hurry. We shift down a lot, to use the different gears on the car and just take it slow and steady."

Brandon Gibbs now lives in Dubuque, but he is a North Carolina native experiencing his first Midwest winter.

"I purchased some snow boots since I've gotten here," Gibbs said. "I did have to buy winter gloves, and after I bought them, my roommates, of course, told me I should've bought mittens, just because they keep your hands warm, because there's not space in between."

It may be cold, but Dr. Singsank said he hasn't seen any frostbite cases yet this year.

"There hasn't been that cold of weather and there hasn't been that sustained cold," he said.

He did mention, however, he hasn't seen any cases of influenza yet this year. It's a big deal, he said, since the flu epidemic can strike as early as Thanksgiving, in time for holiday travels to help spread the virus.

He said he expects to start seeing cases later this month or in February but hopes it will be an overall mild flu season.

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