Ask the Care Expert about ... limiting visits during flu season

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Sherrie Dornberger, RN, CDONA, FACDONA, Executive Director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RN, CDONA, FACDONA, Executive Director, NADONA

We are trying to meet with our families and staff about visiting our facility when they don't feel well or someone in your family has the flu. Are there any guidelines/info you can pass along?

Many people feel guilty if they don't visit a loved one in a facility and arrive no matter what, which can make your entire floor/wing/community sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has free posters you can order — “About Flu” and “Get Vaccinated.”

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology has resources called “Be a good visitor” and “How to be a good visitor at a nursing facility.”

The flu is associated with approximately 200,000 hospital admissions, and as many as 49,000 deaths annually in the United States. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In order to prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses, most healthcare facilities have policies in place that limit visitors during the flu season. Often, they prohibit visitors who are 12 years of age and younger. This is because children often carry viruses without exhibiting any signs or symptoms of illness.

The most vulnerable are people aged 65 and older; individuals who are immunocompromised such as those with HIV, hepatitis, and cancer; people who have chronic medical conditions; those who live with, or care for, the immunocompromised or elderly; and pregnant women.

Among the usual cleanliness precautions, providers must be sure to clean their hands often — especially before entering and after exiting the room.

For more information, visit cdc.gov.

Please send your resident care-related questions to Sherrie Dornberger at ltcnews@mcknights.com.