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DHS implements visitation restrictions in hospitals due to flu

January 19, 2018

Davis Health System officials have implemented visitation restrictions at Davis Medical Center (DMC) and Broaddus Hospital due to the influenza activity in the region. 

“Due to the risk to patients and staff, Davis Health System is implementing visitation restrictions for their acute care areas at DMC and Broaddus Hospital as well as Mansfield Place,” said Julie Phillips, BSN, RN, Infection Preventionist for DMC. 

The restriction asks that anyone under the age of 12 and anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms refrain from visiting patients. 

Flu-like symptoms may include fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, chest congestion, extreme weakness, runny or stuffy nose and fatigue.

As an added precaution the hospital emergency departments, urgent care clinics, and physician offices are providing masks at entrances and registration areas.  “This is for the protection of the patients as well as for our staff members,” said Phillips.

According to Phillips, the flu can be contagious 24 hours before the onset of symptoms, and can be spread for a full week after the onset of symptoms, sometimes even longer in children.  “Visitors may be exposed to those seeking treatment for the flu.  They could also be carriers and contagious without even knowing it.  It’s critical at this time that we limit the risk of exposure for everyone but especially for those who are high-risk to complications from the flu,” said Phillips.

High-risk patients may include pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, small children and those with asthma, lung disorders, or diabetes for example. 

According to a Health Advisory released January 19, 2018, by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, 64 outbreaks were confirmed during December 2017 to January 15, 2018.  The percentage of individuals seeking care for influenza-like illness (ILI) is elevated for the fourth straight week, and at rates higher than West Virginia has seen in the past five (5) influenza seasons.

The Health Advisory also states “Healthcare providers are being advised of the following key points:

  • Vaccination remains the single most effective way to protect individuals from becoming sick throughout the influenza season and reduce risks of influenza-related complications.  Vaccination also provides herd immunity, protecting those not vaccinated from becoming ill.
  • Antiviral drugs are the second line of defense used to treat influenza illness.  Most currently circulating influenza viruses are susceptible to the neuraminidase inhibitor medications such as oseltamivir, sanamivir, and permivir.  CDC recommends administration of these antivirals (within 48 hours, if possible) in all hospitalized, severely ill, and high-risk patients with suspected or confirmed influenza.”

Phillips says there are precautions the public can take to protect themselves in fighting the flu.  Some measures include:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Hand hygiene – wash hands frequently.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfect them often.
  • Stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading the virus.

More information about flu activity in WV is available at the website http://www.dhhr.wv.gov/oeps/disease/flu/Pages/default.aspx.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov, offers valuable information about influenza.

If you have questions or would like more information about Davis Health System visitation restrictions or influenza, contact Julie Phillips, BSN, RN, Infection Preventionist (637-3450) or Catherine Schola, RN, Quality Director at Broaddus Hospital (457-8153).  The public may also visit the DHS website at www.davishealthsystem.org.