According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity is now widespread across most of the United States. Experts say it’s the most intense flu season we’ve seen since 2009 and we haven’t yet reached the peak.
Here at FMH, we are taking steps to keep our patients (many of whom have weakened immune systems) safe from infection. If you are not feeling well, we ask that you do not visit family and friends here in the hospital. We’re recommending each patient see only one visitor at a time, and no visitors under age 16. If you are sick but still need to visit a loved one, you will be asked to wear a mask and clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after visiting.
Remember, patients appreciate phone calls from friends and family – and there’s no risk of getting sick over the phone!
“There is no reason for alarm,” says FMH Infection Preventionist Gail Sonnenberg. “These temporary changes to our visitation policy are designed to keep our patients safe as the flu season runs its course. Anyone coming into the hospital can ask for a mask at the information desk.”
Please keep in mind that you can be contagious about 24 hours before you start to feel flu symptoms. If you’ve had contact with someone suffering from the flu, please know you could be incubating the illness even if you feel fine.
If you are coming to the hospital to seek treatment for flu symptoms, please let our staff know as soon as you arrive. We’ll give you a mask, hand sanitizer and information to help you fight the flu. Anyone accompanying you will also be asked to wear a mask. Please limit the number of people who come with you. Our waiting areas are busy and only one person will be allowed into the treatment area with you.
People with flu symptoms who should seek medical treatment include those who are at high risk for complications due to underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma or COPD, diabetes, people who have had an organ or bone marrow transplant, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication, or infants.
You should seek emergency treatment if you have trouble breathing, a bluish color to the skin, are not able to drink fluids, have pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, develop a rash with the fever, if the patient is not able to be awakened or is not interacting normally, or if the flu symptoms improve and then worsen. In infants and children, extreme irritability so much so that they do not want to be held may be a warning sign to seek medical treatment.
The best way to protect yourself from getting the flu is to get your flu shot. They’re still available and it’s not too late to get one. Find a flu shot in your neighborhood here.