HURON — Due to the number of respiratory (influenza) and gastrointestinal (stomach flu) cases in the community, Huron Regional Medical Center (HRMC) is asking the public to limit visitation to the hospital in order to reduce the risk of spread of infections, according to Janice Farrar, RN, BAN, M.Ed, director of quality and risk management.
“We are asking for the community’s cooperation in controlling the spread of infections, especially to the young, elderly and immune-compromised fellow citizens,” said Farrar.
Visitor restrictions recommend those visiting the hospital be:
• Over the age of 12
• In good health
• Free of any recent respiratory or stomach flu symptoms
“While support of family and friends is important to the healing process patients are stressed by the very experience of being in the hospital and may have weakened immune systems that make it difficult to fight infections,” Farrar said.
Instead of visiting someone in person, Farrar suggests calling or sending flowers or a gift.
Another option is to send an ecard from the hospital website at www.huronregional.org.
Farrar added, “It’s free, it’s quick and it doesn’t spread germs.”
Farrar offers the following tips to stay healthy and reduce the spread of germs:
• Talk to health care providers about getting a flu vaccine. Note that the “flu vaccine” is for the “respiratory influenza,” not for the “stomach flu.”
• Wash your hands — often and well. The number one defense for staying healthy and avoiding the spread of infectious diseases is good hand hygiene. People should wash their hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner after coughing, sneezing or blowing of the nose, before eating and after using the bathroom. Alcohol-based sanitizer may not be effective against some of gastrointestinal “stomach flu bugs.”
• People should cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. People that don’t have a tissue should cough into their sleeve or lapel instead of their hands. They should place used tissues in the trash immediately and wash their hands. During flu season, it’s also a good idea to avoid shaking hands as a greeting to reduce the spread of germs.
• Avoid crowds or close contact.
• Avoid close contact with those that are sick. The “catchy space” for transmitting cough and sneeze droplets is three-to-six feet – keep your distance. Close quarters like day cares, nursing homes and hospitals are especially at risk.
• Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and crowded events when you are sick, especially if you feel achy, have a temperature of 100 or more, or cannot use cough or sneeze precautions.
• Tend to your health every day. Get plenty of rest, eat regular and balanced meals, stay active and avoid the stresses that can make you more susceptible to illness.
• Contact your health care provider as needed. Health care providers serves as your partner to help you prevent and treat illness.
Farrar says the visitor restrictions will remain in effect for as long as the “flu season cases” in the community remain widespread.
Signs are posted throughout the hospital to alert visitors; visitors may call the hospital at 605-353-6200 or visit online at www.huronregional.org.
Information is also available at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and South Dakota Department of Health websites.For the complete article see the 01-31-2013 issue.
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