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Local

OSF takes precautionary measures for flu

Diane Savage receives a flu shot at the La Salle County Health Department in October. OSF physician Nick Reinhart said the flu strain circulating this year is not a complete match to the vaccine, which means doctors anticipate a difficult flu season.
Diane Savage receives a flu shot at the La Salle County Health Department in October. OSF physician Nick Reinhart said the flu strain circulating this year is not a complete match to the vaccine, which means doctors anticipate a difficult flu season.

OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa is asking the public to limit visits as a precautionary measure to protect against increased seasonal flu activity and other upper respiratory illnesses, according to a press statement from the hospital.
These guidelines are based on recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health to protect patients, staff and family members, the release said.
The CDC reports several flu activity indicators are higher right now than is typically seen this time of year. 
“We’re starting to see more flu activity in the past two weeks," said Dr. Nick Reinhart, an OSF physician, in the press release. "The H3N2 virus has been the most common strain we’ve seen this year. This strain is present in this year’s vaccine, but it’s not a complete match, so we are anticipating a difficult flu season.”
Effective Monday, it is requested that:
  • Visitors should be at least 18 years of age and older. This will minimize exposure of patients to children, who are known to be high risk for transmission of viral infections, and will protect children from contracting an illness while visiting the hospital. 
  • Visitors shouldn't visit hospitalized patients if they are not feeling well, particularly if they have had flu-like symptoms during the past seven days. Symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, and/or sore throat.
  • Cough and/or sneeze into your arm or shoulder or use a tissue. The spread of germs can be reduced by coughing into your clothing. Avoid covering your mouth with your hands, as the germs can easily be passed through direct contact with surfaces or people.
  • To assist in limiting the spread of disease, wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand foam/gel when entering and leaving a patient’s room. 
In preparation for what could be a busy flu season, OSF St. Elizabeth is recommending the following to ease wait times and get patients to the appropriate site for care:
  • Call your primary care doctor first if you feel your flu symptoms are unusually severe or if you have trouble breathing, a severe sore throat, are feeling faint, or you have a severe, chronic disease.
  • PromptCare locations are available after regular office hours, and if your regular doctor is unavailable.
  • If both your doctor’s office and PromptCare are closed, it’s best to call the doctor’s office and connect with the After Hours Call Center. They can direct you to the best place to receive care.
  • Flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscle and body aches, headache, fatigue, and a runny or stuffy nose.

There are several steps you can take to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy:

  • If you feel sick or have a fever, stay home.
  • Avoid close contact with people you know are sick, and if you’re sick, limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow to avoid getting germs on your hands and spreading them to others.
  • It’s important to take care of yourself when you have the flu by getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, and taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches, pains and fever.

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