In order to protect patients from the flu and other illnesses, new visiting guidelines have been put in place for the Level II Special Care Nursery (SCN) at the St. Luke’s campus of the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS).
Meanwhile, Rome Memorial Hospital has not issued any restriction guidelines for visitors because officials said the flu has not been prevalent.
Babies in the SCN at MVHS are at greater risk of complications from the flu, hospital officials said. Therefore, only visitors 12-years-old and older may visit at this time.
MVHS is asking that area residents not visit if they feel ill with any type of upper respiratory problem. They should stay home and delay their visit to keep themselves and the babies safe.
However, Rome Hospital has not issued limitations on visitors due to the flu, according to Amy Carissimo-Harris, director of Infection Prevention.
“At this time, we have had no volume of flu in the hospital,” Carissimo-Harris said.
Although there have been relatively few cases so far at Rome Hospital, influenza has been declared prevalent throughout the state, according to State Health Commissioner Dr. Henry Zucker. This means that flu season is in full swing, and extra precautions should be put in to place to help decrease the spread.
Respiratory hygiene, hand washing, and staying home when you’re sick are important flu fighting strategies, in addition to vaccination.
Hospital visitors are asked to use hand sanitizer upon arrival and as they leave the building.
Masks will be available at all entrances for visitors who would like to use them as an extra precaution. The flu can be spread through the air by coughs and sneezes, and is also transferred from person-to-person on surfaces. Using good respiratory hygiene, like covering your cough and discarding used tissues immediately, can reduce transmission.
“It is important to know that the flu can be spread before symptoms even begin, so we ask that anyone who is not feeling well refrain from visiting,” Carissimo-Harris urged. “If you are sick, please do not visit or volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, day care centers, etc., and avoid crowds. Flu can spread rapidly in these environments.”
Vaccination is best way to prevent seasonal flu, Carissimo-Harris said. Seasonal flu vaccine formulations may change every year, because circulating flu viruses change.
“The CDC recommends all people ages 6-months and older get vaccinated every year, even if the vaccine is not a perfect match,” Carissimo-Harris said.
“Antibiotics are not effective against the flu. The flu is a virus, and antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Most healthy adults do not need antivirals to fight the flu, so it may be unlikely that you are prescribed anything for it,” she said. “Antivirals, when taken early, may be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms and complications with high risk populations. Your health care provider will evaluate your need for these drugs.”
The best protection against contracting influenza includes:
Frequent and thorough hand washing.
Covering all coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a handkerchief or a tissue use the crook of your arm not your hand.
Staying home from work, school, or social events if you have a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and pains or other symptoms like nausea or vomiting sometimes associated with influenza.
Avoiding people exhibiting symptoms of a flu-like illness.
Getting the flu vaccine. It is recommended that anyone over 6-months-old receive the flu vaccine.
Those experiencing flu-like symptoms that are severe and persistent should contact their health care provider.
The hospitals practice “Respiratory Etiquette” in their Emergency Departments, Urgent Cares and Primary Care Medical Offices.
Each waiting area has masks for patients to wear to cover their cough, tissues and hand sanitizer for good hand hygiene.
At MVHS, those seeking treatment and have any flu-like symptoms with upper respiratory problems will be asked to wear a mask and may be isolated from other patients.