LAURINBURG — The Scotland Health Care System has begun its organizational response as flu season arrives in North Carolina.
“Flu season is officially upon us,” said Dr. Cheryl Davis, Scotland Memorial Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer. “Although the incidence of the flu is low relative to past years, we have experienced a significant increase in the number of flu cases recently. Based upon medical evidence and past flu trending data provided by the state, Scotland Health Care System Flu Season Organizational Response begins today.”
Scotland Memorial instituted visitor restrictions on Monday.
In order to minimize the risk to patients and the general public, visiting at the hospital is discouraged at any age if the visitor is experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting. If visitors have experienced any flu-like illness, they must be symptom free for 48 hours before they visit the hospital.
Davis said that anyone who presents for an appointment to a physician practice/clinic, to the Emergency Center, or other outpatient location will be asked by registration personnel if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. A yes response will trigger a request by the registration personnel for the individual to wear a mask. All registration areas will have a supply of masks at their disposal.
For the protection of all patients and visitors, children under the age of 12 will not be allowed to visit Scotland Memorial Hospital until the spread of seasonal flu has been minimized.
At the start of February, the state had seen two flu-related deaths so far this season compared with 163 at this point last year. Nationally, the flu often peaks in February, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike North Carolina, the nation saw a slight increase in flu activity in the week ending Jan. 30.
An especially effective flu vaccine may also be contributing to the less intense flu season. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a mutation in the most prevalent flu strain made the vaccine less effective, contributing to a national flu epidemic.
Davis offers these defenses against the flu:
— Wash your hands often with soap and water and frequently clean your living area and commonly-used surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls, computer keyboards, counter tops, faucet handles, and bathroom areas
— Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
— Avoid touching your face, nose or mouth
— Avoid contact with people who are sick
For information about Flu Restrictions, call the infections prevention practitioner at 910-291-7595.