If you've visited a North Shore hospital over the last few weeks, you've probably noticed a ramped up effort to keep visitors and patients from contracting a flu virus that is sweeping the country.
At Salem's North Shore Medical Center, signs have been posted throughout the hospital requesting that visitors with flu-like symptoms wear medical masks and reminding everyone, including hospital staffers, to diligently wash their hands and avoid touching their faces.
According to Associate Chief Nurse Anne Barrett, visitors to the hospital's OB and Special Care offices who are feeling under the weather are being asked to postpone their visits.
Similar measures are being taken at Beverly Hospital, where a Chief Quality and Safety Officer said 99 patients are currently testing positive for the flu.
Mary Anna Sullivan, M.D said patients who have been diagnosed with flu are "responding to treatment and are doing well."
"Our colleague absentee volume has been very low, due a large part to our high vaccination rate among colleagues, 97 percent," Sullivan said. "This has allowed us to quickly respond to the increase in patient volume and continue providing excellent care."
At the Lahey Burlington campus, Sullivan said 386 patients have tested positive for flu, more than any of the past four flu seasons.
"In addition to encouraging flu vaccinations, we are re-emphasizing the importance of hand hygiene to our colleagues, patients, and visitors, and are discouraging those with flu like symptoms to visit their loved ones at the hospital," Sullivan said.
As of Jan. 9, visitors under 18 or those have a fever, chills or cough are temporarily prohibited from entering inpatient units - siblings under 18 can visit the maternity ward though.
Healthy visitors over 18 are limited to two at a time in a patient's room.
Recommendations for minimizing the spread of influenza:
- Get a flu shot.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective and can be found throughout our facilities.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, including a fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, fatigue, body aches and chills.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.
Have you visited a loved one in an area hospital recently? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.