Tricounty News

Meeker Memorial Hospital begins visitor restrictions

Meeker Memorial Hospital will implement visitor restrictions Tuesday, Jan. 21. Because of the prevalence of influenza (FLU) already this season and to further protect patients, staff and the community from its spread, it has been decided to implement visitor restrictions at MMH; the following are in effect until further notice:

• It is recommended that no children visit hospital patients.

• Birth Center: No one under 18 is allowed to visit at this time, with the exception of siblings.

• For anyone with symptoms like scratchy throat, fever, cough, body aches, etc., a mask is required to visit patients.

• All visitors must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer prior to and after visitation.

• There are “hygiene” kiosks with masks and hand sanitizer located in the center of the lobby and in the hall on 3rd Floor between the Inpatient and Behavioral Health inpatient units.

These restrictions are effective immediately and are subject to change.

Recommendations for individuals

• We are encouraging people to be vaccinated. It is not too late to get vaccinated and there is vaccine available at many different venues – doctors’ offices, neighborhood clinics, retail clinics, pharmacies, etc. Because people who are at high risk for influenza complications may not have the best immune response to the vaccine, it is important that those around them are vaccinated.

• While the vaccine doesn’t offer perfect protection, it is still the best tool we have for preventing influenza and its complications. If you don’t get it, you have zero protection.

• Generally speaking, the vaccine is about 60 percent effective in most people (a little better than that in children, less than that in the elderly), so we would not be surprised to see influenza illness in some people who were vaccinated; but those who are vaccinated typically have less severe illness if they do get sick.

• To find the location of a flu clinic near you, visit www.mdhflu.com.

• Most people can fight the flu at home with rest and fluids. If you are in a group at high risk for influenza complications and you develop influenza, you should contact your health care provider early on so that you can be given antiviral medication if needed (it is most effective when started within two days of contracting influenza). It is also just a good idea to check in with your health care provider or doctor in case your situation worsens, etc.

• MDH and the CDC recommend that everyone get vaccinated for influenza, but especially those at high risk for complications from influenza. Those include:

• Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old

• Adults 65 years of age and older

• Pregnant women

• American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications

• People who have medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders and others. For a list, see CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

• During flu season, besides getting vaccinated, there are other steps people can take to avoid spreading or catching influenza:

• Do your best to stay healthy. Get plenty of rest, physical activity and healthy eating.

• Stay home from school or work if you have a respiratory infection. Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick with flu-like illness.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.

• Clean surfaces you touch frequently, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

Symptoms, treatment, etc.

• The symptoms of influenza, which tend to come on suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. People who become severely ill with influenza-like symptoms should see a physician.

• Influenza is caused by a virus and antibiotics are not effective against it.