Archive for Tuesday, January 8, 2013

LMH takes precautions against spreading flu

January 8, 2013


Lawrence Memorial Hospital is now requiring its staff to either get a flu vaccination or wear a surgical mask when dealing directly with patients.

Hospital officials say it's a policy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one that is based on research showing it helps reduce the spread of influenza. But it's one that has stirred controversy in other parts of the country, including Massachusetts where a statewide nurses union has openly opposed it.

"We did quite a bit of research," said Greg Windholz, director of LHM's Business Health Center. "We don't ever want to change a policy without, one, doing the research and, two, seeing what is going on in the area and what other hospitals are doing."

The CDC has long recommended that health care workers receive flu vaccinations each year. In 2009, it began recommending the use of face masks and respirators in certain settings in response to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

Since then, Windholz said, the policy has become a standard practice in most hospitals.

"That's pretty consistent," Windholz said. "There are hospitals that (require) mandatory flu vaccines. If they're not, they require flu vaccines or wearing a mask when doing direct patient care. It's pretty universal now, not only in this area but across the country."

Windholz said LMH formally adopted the policy last fall, and it went into effect recently with the first laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Douglas County. He said the policy is only in effect during an active flu outbreak, and it applies only to workers involved in direct patient care who come within six feet of a patient.

Last month, a similar policy adopted by many Massachusetts hospitals sparked opposition from the Massachusetts Nurses Association which posted a statement on its website.

"There is no medical justification for these policies, which are designed to bully nurses and staff to take the flu vaccine regardless of nurses’ medical and/or personal concerns," the statement read.

The new policies are coming in a year when the seasonal flu outbreak is proving to be more widespread than normal.

"It's certainly early, and seems to be more intense than where we were last year," said Charlie Hunt, state epidemiologist at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Hunt said KDHE tracks flu outbreaks through a voluntary reporting system that involves a network of outpatient clinics that report patients complaining of flu-like symptoms. The trends are published on KDHE's Influenza Surveillance website, which shows that in the last week of December, more than 5 percent of all patient visits were related to flu symptoms.

That's far more than the peak of the seasonal flu outbreak in each of the last two years, peaks that normally don't occur until late February or early March.

"Generally speaking, when influenza activity starts to ramp up, it will stay elevated for several weeks, so I would anticipate that if this year's influenza behaves like typical influenza, then we're going to see elevated levels for a while," Hunt said.


riverdrifter 5 years, 5 months ago

Stock up on the ol' N95 respirator masks and keep a sharp eye on the trade routes.

Belinda Rehmer 5 years, 5 months ago

autie: your friend is correct. AND that is why LMH has been promoting proper hand hygiene to staff, patients, and most importantly children, for as long as 20 years!

In fact, along with LMH following the new CDC recommendation that staff be inoculated with the influenza vaccine (free of charge by the way) or wear a mask when within 6 feet of a patient (which is as much a protection for the staff as the patient, because believe it or not the flu virus is also spread through the air, via sneezing etc.), the hospital has initiated the World Health Organization and CDC's "5 Moments of Hand Hygiene" recommendation.

We encourage everyone to do what they can to stay healthy and fight disease (exercise, eat healthy, drink in moderation, don't smoke... for example) but not everyone is successful. And when your body can no longer fight off the virus' of our world, we are here for you.

Might I suggest if you want to visit your friend in the hospital, and you (or your child) are not feeling well yourself, that you send a card instead? (we even have free ecards online you can send! Or feel free to wear a mask yourself we will most probably have masks available for visitors very soon. And don't forget to wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer available on almost every wall!

akt2 5 years, 5 months ago

Influenza would probably be the least of my worries if I was a patient in a hospital. The probability of contracting MRSA, staph, C-Diff or some other infection are more concerning.

gr 5 years, 5 months ago

" The probability of contracting MRSA, staph, C-Diff or some other infection are more concerning."

Interesting comparison with the flu. Not many get it. The resistant things such as MRSA are caused by continually using antibiotics. If you wanted to make bacteria even more resistant, you would require all hospitals all the time to use antibiotics even if it's not needed. Maybe not much difference than what they're doing now?!

So how do you create a resistant flu virus? Require everyone all the time to get vaccinated!

It was reported in December that there are more, well, not more flu cases, but more flu-like symptoms (wonder why...). Aren't more and more people getting vaccinated, especially with this enforcement against people's choices? Obviously, it's not working. Or just extraneous reports trying to promote vaccines.

What I understand Belinda to say is either be vaccinated or wear a mask. I understand that it is commonly accepted that not all vaccinated people are immune (as if any!). So, if you are one of those who are vaccinated and still come down with the flu, do you have to wear a mask? You are sneezing, have a fever, feeling just awful, but you had your magic potion so you come up to a patient and snivel, "I nee ta tak ya bla pressure". Another nurse tells you that you shouldn't be that close to patients, but you tell her that's ok, because you've already been vaccinated.

So, if you say, well, that person still needs to wear a mask (or go home!), then the vaccination did not really do or mean anything, did it? How about if you are sick, don't interact with the patients? Oh, but you say, you may be contagious without knowing it. What about those where the vaccine doesn't work, what about them when they don't know it?

Just a waste of time and touchy feel good thing. A pride thing. A, it doesn't work, but at least we're doing something [pointless]. A demeaning thing.

And a preparatory thing for the future. Once everyone is drinking the cool-aid and feeling safe, then they can sneak the real stuff and help save this world from humans!

Ahhh... Is that why I heard reports of the CDC having 500,000 disposable coffins (thought all coffins were disposable!)? Do they know something we don't? If their intent is to have all people get vaccinated to "save" them, then there would be no need for all the nice stackable coffins which you can fit several people in. Now, if it's the cool-aid, then it makes sense. Or if they know the vaccines aren't any good, then it makes sense. Or is it for one of those recombination viruses they've been experimenting with? Or maybe it's not about flu but nuclear attack or other planned or expected disaster? What do they know we don't? All those coffins cost money so why are they spending tax payer dollars on "just in case"?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago


I would try to correct all of the numerous errors of logic and science in that post, but it would take a while, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't make a dent in your opinion.

But, I'll take a couple - vaccinations are different from antibiotics. They involve small doses of weakened viruses that stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies.

Also, nobody has ever claimed that vaccinations are 100% effective - viruses are tricky things that mutate, and vaccinations are attempts to predict the most likely strains of those and protect against them.

That doesn't mean they're not at all effective, or a bad idea.

The idea that health care professionals would be sick to that extent and working defies logic and common sense.

Flu like symptoms means any sort of viral symptoms - there are many different viruses.

And, it's my understanding that antibiotic resistant bacteria are caused by overuse and misuse of antibiotics, including patients who fail to take the whole course prescribed for them, livestock that are given low doses of them for preventive measures, etc.

gr 5 years, 5 months ago

Jafs, could you describe a situation where vaccines are used in an overuse situation?

My guess would be that you would say they just are not. Why is it that antibiotics can be overused but vaccines cannot?

"But, I'll take a couple - vaccinations are different from antibiotics. They involve small doses of weakened viruses that stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies."

You may be correct on "vaccinations" specifically. But what about "antibodies"? How do you see them different than antibiotics?

And if viruses are so tricky and mutate, could you give the probability of any vaccine (yearly flu vaccine especially!) of being predicted correctly?

In fact, could you list the prediction stats of the last 10 years of the flu vaccine and how it was determined? I mean, if we are going to use logic and science, wouldn't that information be necessary for making an informed decision? And what was the results of the vaccination or not?

Most likely, you'll respond in some fashion that I "just need to believe".

gr 5 years, 5 months ago

You may also want to look into the continuing uphill battle crop breeders have with disease resistance. You may claim it's internal and so somehow different. But yet crops have resistance internal and even with stacked genes, fungi, insects, bacteria, and viruses still overpower the bred resistance so they have to search further. Which leads to the shortcut of GMO crops. I've even read there may be resistance to bt.

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