Cold and ‘flu season – health facility visitors can help

  • Jan. 11, 2013 8:00 p.m.

submitted by Northern HealthNorthern Health is asking for continued cooperation from visitors to hospitals and other health care facilities during the winter months, which are prime season for outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness (norovirus), influenza, and rhinovirus (the common cold).”These illnesses are circulating in the general community, increasing the likelihood that long-term care residents, hospital patients and staff in some facilities will come down with a contagious virus at some point,” said Dr. David Bowering, acting Chief Medical Health Officer for Northern Health. “We need the help of visitors to these facilities in limiting the spread of these illnesses.”Northern Health puts increased infection control measures in place during suspected outbreaks in health care facilities. In order to limit the spread of illness, the threshold at which a medical health officer may declare an ‘outbreak’ and impose such restrictions is quite low – in fact, it can take as few as two cases within a short time frame to prompt an increased focus on hand-washing, restrictions on visitors to an affected facility, and staff movement between facilities.Northern Health will advise if any outbreak requires more stringent infection control measures to be put into effect, in the event they could impact health services for the general public.There are several ways to help prevent the spread of illness in the general community, and to health facilities:. staying at home if you are not feeling well;. not returning to work or school until you are feeling well and your symptoms have resolved (in the case of influenza, until 24 hours after you are free of fever) . careful hand washing: wash your hands often, and well. Use warm water and soap, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands after coughing or blowing your nose, after using the washroom, before eating or preparing food, and after helping someone who is ill (such as an ill child).