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Published on January 22, 2015

LMH initiates visitor restrictions due to flu concerns


Due to a rapid spike in flu cases at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the hospital is initiating restrictions on patient visitors. Effective immediately, all patient visitors and LMH staff with patient contact are required to wear masks in patient areas. In addition, LMH officials are discouraging visits from children as well as immune-deficient adults.

The restrictions are being put in place to help fight the spread of flu, and protect patients, staff and visitors.

Although the hospital experienced a downturn in the number of reported cases last week, volumes began peaking again over the weekend. As of today, LMH has eight hospitalized patients who have tested positive for influenza A. LMH has confirmed 24 cases of influenza in the last three days, and that's prompted stricter visiting guidelines and advice to the community to stay home if you're sick.

"Many hospitalized patients are already in immune-compromised situations," said LMH Infection Preventionist Julie Robbins, RN, BSN. "The last thing they need is to be exposed to the flu and other contagious illnesses."

There are things you can do to protect yourself from the flu. First and foremost, get a flu shot if you haven't done so already. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, and is especially important for children under five, people over 65, and anyone else with a pre-existing medical condition.

It's important to note that the flu vaccine protects against certain strains of the flu, so it is still possible to become sick even with the vaccine. If this does occur though, the vaccine has the capability to lessen the severity of your symptoms. Below are some other things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu. These, in addition to the flu vaccine, could make for a much healthier winter.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, you should take these steps to avoid spreading germs:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get the flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean frequently and appropriately, especially if someone in your home has been sick.

Robbins observes that unfortunately, all of these preventive measures, with the exception of vaccine, are usually practiced too late. You usually become contagious within 24 to 72 hours after being infected, nearly always before you begin to feel sick, and you remain contagious for seven days after the onset of symptoms.

Symptoms of the flu include: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration; the flu might also worsen other chronic conditions. Contact your health care provider if you have flu symptoms for treatment advice. Other components of treatment include rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter or prescription medicines, such as decongestants, to relieve symptoms.

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