As of Monday, March 31, St. Luke's Hospital lifted visitor restrictions that had been in place since December 2013 related to the flu outbreak. A significant drop in the number of patients being seen with flu-like symptoms prompted the change. Despite the drop in flu cases, hospital officials recommend that visitors experiencing flu-like symptoms refrain from entering the hospital.
"As we make this change, rest assured we continue our focus on hand hygiene and other infection prevention measures that keep our patients and staff safe," said Megan Parker, RN, Infection Preventionist. To further help reduce the chances of getting or spreading the flu or other illnesses common during the winter months, Parker recommends coughing or sneezing into elbows or tissues, staying current on vaccinations, frequent hand washing with soap or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and not touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands.
The common cold and flu are both contagious viral infections. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone Parker said. Nasal congestion, sore throat and sneezing are common with colds. Both colds and flu bring coughing, headache and chest discomfort. With the flu, though, you are likely to run a high fever for several days and have headache, body aches, fatigue and weakness.
"We have also posted notices throughout St. Luke's with common sense steps all of us can take to avoid catching or spreading the flu," adds Parker. "These include thorough hand washing with soap or alcohol-based hand cleaners, covering coughs and, if required or advised, to wear surgical face masks. These simple procedures have worked extremely well to limit the spread of the flu at St. Luke's Hospital."
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