Flu Update

Flu Updates...

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 -

Flu season visitation guidelines will go into effect Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 at all Phoebe hospitals as flu activity begins to increase.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists flu activity in Georgia as “low,” but data from the Georgia Department of Community Health show the number of suspected flu cases is slightly more than the baseline activity for this time of year. 

“Flu season is here, and we want to be proactive.  As we have done each flu season in recent years, we are implementing protocols to help prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses to protect our patients, visitors, staff and the community at large,” said Steven Kitchen, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer.

Until further notice the following visitation guidelines are in effect at Phoebe hospitals:

  • Patient visitation should be limited to care and support of the patient. 
  • Visiting hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Children under the age of 18 should not visit the hospital.  Exceptions may be made for births and end-of-life situations.
  • Do not visit if you have any signs or symptoms of influenza.  Visit www.phoebeflu.com for more information.
  • If you have a fever, cough, body aches or a sore throat, please postpone your visit until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Visitors should use hand gel when entering the hospital and may be offered the opportunity to wear a mask to minimize the spread of germs.
  • Visitors will be required to wear personal protective equipment such as gowns, gloves and masks if visiting a patient in isolation.

The number of Phoebe patients presenting with flu-like symptoms has increased each of the last four weeks.  The week ending Nov. 10, Phoebe treated 194 people with flu-like symptoms, and 31 patients tested positive for influenza, almost twice as many positive flu tests as the previous week.  “The flu test helps us monitor flu prevalence, but it is not 100% accurate,” Dr. Kitchen said.  “All patients don’t necessarily need a flu test.  We treat patients exhibiting flu symptoms the same, regardless of the outcome of a test.”

The flu vaccine remains your best protection against influenza, and Phoebe physicians encourage everyone over six months of age to get a flu shot.  “Vaccines are readily available.  The shot is free for most people with insurance, and it is low-cost for those who may have to pay out-of-pocket,” Dr. Kitchen said.

Phoebe urges all southwest Georgians to abide by the following advice for the remainder of flu season.

  • Avoid contact with people who have the flu.
  • Seek medical attention quickly if you develop symptoms.  Antiviral medication may shorten the severity and duration of the flu if you contract the illness.
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities.
  • Cover your nose and your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.  Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose to prevent germs from spreading.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and objects.

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