Due to a significant increase in flu cases, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula is adding protections for its patients, staff, and visitors, and strongly recommends that community members also take precautions.
People with cold or flu symptoms are no longer allowed to visit Community Hospital’s Family Birth Center. Access to the Family Birth Center’s nursery is further limited to only those over the age of 15. The restrictions were put in place to protect the delicate immune systems of newborns, as well as their mothers.
In general, community members with flu or cold symptoms are urged not to visit the hospital until they are well, to protect all patients, visitors, and hospital staff.
California Department of Public Health says the flu is widespread in California, with most of the activity in northern, central, and the Bay Area regions. As of December 30, there were three deaths and 29 severe cases since the flu season started, resulting in intensive care unit stays, all in people under the age of 65. Monterey County Public Health reported one death in Monterey County as a result of flu.
Community Hospital has seen an increase in flu patients since the flu season officially started on November 1, 45 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases and 198 others have come through the Emergency department, were treated, and sent home.
“We are seeing an unusually high number of patients in the Emergency department this week, and not all cases of the flu should come to the hospital,” says Dr. Sameer Bakhda, medical director of the department.
“Influenza is different from a typical cold; it is much more severe,” says Dr. Martha Blum, medical director of Infection Prevention at Community Hospital. “People who are ill with known or suspected influenza should stay at home until the fever goes away and they are feeling better, generally about a week. People concerned that they may have influenza should contact their primary medical provider promptly for advice and an evaluation if medication would be helpful. They should go to an Emergency department if they have difficulty breathing, trouble managing the symptoms at home, or if instructed by their primary provider.”
The medications used to treat flu, such as Tamiflu® and Relenza®, only work to decrease the duration of symptoms by about a day and generally only have that effect when given within the first 2 days of becoming ill,” Blum says.
“As always,” Blum says, “the best way to avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated — it’s not too late — and to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after visiting public places like the grocery store, cover your sneeze and cough, and avoid places where there are known cases of influenza.”
To protect Community Hospital patients from the flu, 94 percent of staff has received this season’s flu vaccination thus far. Caregivers who are unable to get the vaccine wear masks when caring for patients. Further visitation restrictions will be put in place as necessary to protect patients should influenza continue to spread in our area.
Symptoms of the flu may include:
- Fever or chills (not all flu cases exhibit a fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or sinus congestion
- Body aches
- Vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
For a list of resources, including where to get vaccinated, visit www.chomp.org/flu.