It is influenza season once again. Marshall Medical Center is working to get its patients and staff immunized and to get the word out about the flu, its risks and what people can do to prevent its spread.
Marshall’s priority is the health of its patients, employees and community. Since employees work closely with flu patients, Marshall officials not only want to prevent them from getting the disease but also from spreading it in the community.
Because the flu can be contagious for more than 24 hours prior to the onset of symptoms, it is not always possible to tell who might be contagious. The risk of spread even when no symptoms are present is just one reason El Dorado County’s Public Health Officer has ordered a masking protocol for healthcare facilities.
Marshall is complying with this order. This means that from Dec. 1 to March 31, 2013, (peak flu season) patients and visitors to Marshall Medical Center facilities will see some staff and physicians wearing masks. These are persons who have either declined a flu immunization or who are unable to get immunized due to medical reasons.
Vaccinated staff — those not wearing a mask — are identified by a sticker on their ID badge.
While Marshall is taking every step to prevent the spread of flu, there is much community members can do as well.
Marshall is asking the community to help prevent the spread of flu by doing the following:
• Get immunized with the influenza vaccine.
• If you are ill with respiratory symptoms do not visit hospitalized patients.
• If you are visiting in the hospital and you have not been immunized for influenza please wear a mask. Masks will be available, along with hand sanitizer at the main hospital entrances and in physician office lobbies. Ask staff if you need assistance.
In addition to the vaccine, here are specific measures you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming sick:
• Wash your hands often. The most common way to catch the flu is to touch your own eyes, nose or mouth with infected hands. So keep your hands clean, and away from your face.
• Cover your mouth and nose into your elbow when sneezing and coughing, especially if you have the flu or any other respiratory illness. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
• Stay home from work, school and other activities if you are sick.
Other good habits that will help you stay healthy include getting plenty of sleep, eating a well balanced diet, managing stress, drinking water, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake. For more information about the flu go to cdc.gov/flu.