Flu cases continue to rise across nation and Virginia

In an effort to protect patients, visitors and medical staff from the spread of flu, effective Wednesday, January 9, 2013, hospitals and health care systems strongly recommend all patients and visitors wear a mask upon entering hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, urgent care centers, and branch clinics, including patients seeking outpatient services at the hospitals.  A mask is also strongly recommended on arrival for patients and family members seeking care at associated primary care physician practices.

This strong recommendation comes at a time when seasonal influenza cases are double the numbers experienced at this time last year. Virginia is in the third straight week of widespread flu, which the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite as the highest category of flu activity.

Since vaccines are not 100% effective, patients and visitors entering the facilities who have already had flu vaccines are strongly encouraged to wear a mask as an added protection for themselves and their loved ones. 

Medical evidence suggests infected persons can transmit the virus as much as 24 hours before displaying symptoms. This recommendation will help protect patients, visitors, and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms occur. 

Our goal as health care providers is to use every available and appropriate measure to protect the community, our patients, visitors, family members, and staff at medical facilities from exposure to outside infections. 

Hospitals and health systems are also asking for individuals displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness not to visit area hospitals.  Symptoms of flu include: fever and respiratory illness such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The recommendation to wear a mask when entering health care facilities will remain in effect during the flu season and while prevalence of flu in the region is extraordinarily high.

Participating hospitals include:

  • Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center
  • Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital
  • Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center
  • Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View
  • Bon Secours Maryview Nursing Care Center
  • St. Francis Nursing Center
  • Chesapeake Regional Medical Center
  • Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters
  • Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
  • Riverside Regional Medical Center
  • Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital
  • Riverside Tappahannock Hospital
  • Riverside Walter Reed Hospital
  • Sentara CarePlex Hospital and Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex
  • Sentara Leigh Hospital
  • Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Heart Hospital
  • Sentara Obici Hospital
  • Sentara Princess Anne Hospital
  • Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
  • Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center
  • Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and Sentara Lake Ridge
  • Sentara Freestanding Emergency Departments at BelleHarbour, Port Warwick, Independence and Lake Ridge
  • Martha Jefferson Hospital
  • Martha Jefferson Emergency Department at Proffitt Road
  • Rockingham Memorial Hospital

Hospital leaders are relying on families to help protect the community from flu.

Published: January 9, 2013