Stopping by Wyoming Medical Center during flu season? Be a good visitor

By Kristy Bleizeffer one week ago

Wyoming Medical Center has confirmed the season's first cases of influenza. That means we all have to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus – especially when visiting the hospital.

Many of our patients already have weakened immune systems. They may be very young, or very old, or they may be here for an illness that weakens their body’s ability to fight infection.

People often mistake cold symptoms or stomach bugs with the flu, but influenza is a respiratory disease that can be very serious. Each year, the flu contributes to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and as many as 49,000 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you're coming to Wyoming Medical Center for any reason in the coming weeks, please be a good visitor. Alice Lynch, infection control nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, asks visitors to follow these guidelines:

Follow our transmission-based precautions.

Some patients are under “transmission-based precautions,” which means they require a higher standard of infection control in order to protect patients, families, visitors and healthcare workers from spreadable germs. This could mean a patient is in contact, droplet or airborne isolation.

Visitors to these rooms require extra protection – such as wearing a mask, gown and/or gloves. It is important that you follow these guidelines for your safety and the safety of our staff and patients. Please talk to a nurse before entering the room to find out which precautions are necessary.

For more information, please read our visitation guidelines

Stay home if you are sick.

It is never a good idea to visit a healthcare setting if you are not feeling well, especially if you could be infected with the flu virus. Do not come to the hospital if you have:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Get a flu shot.

Getting vaccinated every year is the best way to prevent the spread of influenza. Everyone six months and older should get a flu shot, particularly people who are very young or very old or who may suffer from other chronic illnesses, says Dr. Mark Dowell, director of infection control at Wyoming Medical Center. Talk to your primary care doctor or pediatrician about the best type of vaccination for children under two. It’s important to get vaccinated because we shed the virus before we even know that we are sick.

Pregnant women can and should get the flu shot as well, Dowell says. And they are also at higher risk if they get the flu because they can put their babies at risk.

The vaccination protects against the flu for about four to six months, but is strongest after two to four weeks. It’s not too late to get vaccinated for this season. If you haven't yet gotten your shot, please do so.

Consider leaving the kids at home.

Children frequently catch germs from school or daycare, but they don’t always show symptoms. Consider leaving them at home, particularly if you plan to visit someone who is more vulnerable to infection. This includes patients who are:

  • 65 and older
  • Pregnant
  • Young children or infants
  • People who have chronic medical conditions or who have compromised immune systems

Practice good infection prevention.

It’s a good idea to use these common sense principles all the time; They are essential when visiting someone in a healthcare setting:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand gel before entering and leaving a hospital room.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow to prevent droplets from infecting nearby surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. 

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