Guidelines released in light of increased H1N1 flu activity
Berlin, Md. – In an effort to protect the community against the spread of seasonal and H1N1 flu, Atlantic General Hospital and Health System announced today a set of suggested guidelines for visitors to the hospital.
The guidelines are as follows:
• Patients should limit their visitors to no more than two to protect them and others.
• Individuals with upper respiratory illness (cough, fever, etc.) are asked not to visit patients.
• Children under the age of 18 are encouraged to NOT visit patients at this time. Special accommodations will be made for end of life circumstances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that young people are more at risk as carriers and transmitters of the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus.
• Individuals with Atlantic General Health System outpatient or physician appointments are encouraged to come to those appointments without their children under age 18, unless the appointment or health care service is for the child.
• To reduce the risk of exposure, it is recommended that pregnant women not visit unless seeking medical treatment.
“We do not want to inconvenience our patients and their loved ones, but we have established these recommended guidelines to protect our community as much as possible from the H1N1 flu virus,” said Michaelann Frate, director of infection control at Atlantic General Hospital. “While we await larger supplies of the H1N1 vaccine, the best ways to prevent the spread of the illness are to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid crowded public places as much as possible when experiencing symptoms.”
According to the Worcester County Health Department, public health officials expect December to be the heaviest month for H1N1 virus activity. In alliance with health department standards, Atlantic General is encouraging those individuals with fevers of 100 degrees or higher with a cough or sore throat or stuffy/runny nose to stay home until symptoms go away.
ALTERNATIVE TO THE ER FOR CARE IN NON-URGENT SITUATIONS
If symptoms are not urgent but medical attention is needed it is best to avoid the emergency department, Frate says. Atlantic General Hospital and Health System provides several alternatives to emergency room visits for those who cannot make an appointment with their regular provider.
The Atlantic Health Center, located on Atlantic General’s campus across the street from the hospital, provides walk-in care Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Beginning November 9, the new Atlantic ImmediCare walk-in clinic in the Ocean Pines Rite Aid will also be available to the public. Patients can see a provider seven days a week: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
One week later, on November 16, additional Atlantic ImmediCare clinics in the Pocomoke City, Md. and Millsboro, Del. Rite Aids will also be open.
“For those with flu-like symptoms, the Atlantic ImmediCare locations are optimal places to receive care. Patients can get in to see a provider, pick up any over-the-counter or prescription medication they may need and go home,” said Michael Franklin, CEO of Atlantic General Hospital.
In the meantime, the H1N1 vaccine supply is expected to increase over the next few weeks. As it becomes more available, Atlantic General Hospital will hold H1N1 vaccine clinics in conjunction with the Worcester County Health Department, starting with the high risk groups: pregnant women, healthcare workers and children with special needs.
As the vaccine becomes more widely available, those flu clinics will be expanded to include the general public who may wish to receive the H1N1 vaccine. For more information about community vaccine clinics, call Atlantic General Hospital’s flu hotline at 410-641-9FLU (9358).
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