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Published on December 10, 2014

KishHealth System Prepares for Flu Season

December 10, 2014

nurse wearing surgical maskDeKALB, Ill - Patients and visitors to KishHealth System facilities may notice some employees wearing a mask this flu season. Masking is a way to protect patients, visitors, and other staff members from contracting the influenza virus. Flu is a serious contagious disease that causes illness and related hospitalizations and deaths every year in the United States. The masking policy comes from The Joint Commission’s standard that all accredited healthcare facilities require their employees to receive a flu vaccination or wear a mask during the official flu season, based on data concerning patient safety and employee wellness. By requiring vaccinations or masking for the employees who work in KishHealth System facilities, the health system is decreasing the likelihood of exposing patients, staff members, and visitors to unintentional illness from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control is preparing for a potentially severe flu season and KishHealth System is working to protect all patients and visitors.

All visitors to health system facilities, especially those who are experiencing flu symptoms, are encouraged to wash their hands, use hand sanitation stations and to wear masks which are available. Dawn Lomax, KishHealth System Infection Control practitioner, reminds us that “most healthy adults may be able to infect other people the day before they develop symptoms and for up to five to seven days after becoming sick. This means you may be able to pass the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick.”

Public health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza, especially pregnant women, young children, people 65 years of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing.

People with influenza can spread it to others as far as six feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has a flu virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth or nose.

In addition to getting a flu shot, you can also reduce your risk by:

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Practicing good cough etiquette, such as coughing into your elbow instead of your hand.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; germs are spread this way.
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat.
  • A runny or stuffy nose.
  • Headaches and/or body aches.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

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