Flu season has officially arrived in Knox County. Each year thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized. Flu can make some people much sicker than others.
According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s particular flu strain, Influenza A or H1N1 virus is already attributed to a number of severe respiratory illnesses among young and middle-aged adults.
At Pen Bay, our staff are truly committed to minimizing the burden of influenza in the healthcare environment and in our larger community. For those who become ill with influenza despite an array of efforts to prevent this illness, we strive to deliver the best care possible to minimize complications of the flu.
Here is what Pen Bay is doing to prevent the flu at our hospital, affiliated nursing homes, offices and in our community:
– The single most valuable way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated. To this end, we have been offering the flu shot routinely in a variety of settings throughout the fall, most notably at office visits and emergency room visits. Since October, the flu shot has been offered routinely for all patients admitted to the hospital. The flu shot is still available and recommended for everyone over the age of six months who does not have a medical contraindication. Contact your primary care provider to schedule your flu vaccination if you have not yet had the flu shot.
– All Pen Bay staff are required either to be vaccinated against the flu or wear a mask when in patient care areas during flu season. Staff who have been vaccinated have a yellow heart sticker on their Pen Bay ID badge this year with the words “Vaccinated against flu.”
– We take aggressive precautions at all times with respect to hand washing and other infection prevention measures. Flu season reinforces the importance of adhering to these standards.
– We ask that anyone with flu-like symptoms refrain from visiting friends or family at the hospital or the nursing facilities.
– Anyone coming to the hospital or the offices to be seen for flulike symptoms is asked to wear a mask while awaiting evaluation by one of our providers.
The flu can have the most affect on young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions — such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system. Flu vaccine is especially important for these people, and anyone in close contact with them. Flu can also lead to pneumonia, and make existing medical conditions worse. It can cause diarrhea and seizures in children.
For the protection of yourself and loved ones, please consider getting a flu shot today.