Over the past few weeks, Hunterdon County has seen an increase in illness reported throughout the school districts and high flu activity has been identified throughout the county. In order to best protect our patients, staff and volunteers, Hunterdon Medical Center will begin flu screening at the main entrance of the hospital beginning February 7th.
Flu screening will take place from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. All visitors and outpatients coming into the facility will be screened for flu-like symptoms. Those visitors that are ill and have arrived to see a patient will not be allowed to visit. These visitors will be asked to return when well (24 hours symptom-free without fever reducing medication).
Visitors coming for an outpatient test/procedure that have flu-like symptoms will be asked to wear a mask while in the hospital.
All healthy individuals will be given a special sticker to wear while in the hospital to identify he/she has been screened.
“Patients who are admitted to the hospital are already sick and their immune system can be weak, making it more difficult to fight off infections like the flu. We want to best protect our patients from developing the flu. We recognize this screening may cause our visitors and outpatients some inconvenience, but this process is critical to protect the health and safety of our patients, staff and volunteers,” explained Lisa Rasimowicz, MSN, RN, CIC, Director of Infection Prevention at Hunterdon Medical Center.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. While most healthy people recover from the flu without complications, some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious complications from the flu. Flu symptoms include: fever (usually high), headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting (occurs mostly in children).
“The flu spreads in respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. It usually spreads from person to person, though occasionally a person may become infected by touching something with virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose. A person may be able to infect others one day before getting symptoms and up to seven days after getting sick. So it is possible to give someone the flu before you know you’re sick as well as while you are sick,” stated Rasimowicz. It’s important to cover your coughs and sneezes, stay away from sick people (and stay home if you’re sick), and wash hands often to help stop the spread of viruses like the flu.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. It is not too late to get vaccinated. Contact your primary care physician to schedule an appointment. If you need a primary care physician, please call Hunterdon Medical Center’s Physician Referral Service at 1-800-511-4462 or visit www.hunterdonhealthcare.org.