Numerous area hospitals and health care systems are strongly recommending that all patients and visitors wear a mask when entering hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, urgent care centers, and branch clinics to reduce the spread of flu, which is widespread in Virginia and North Carolina.
Public health officials report seasonal influenza cases in Virginia and North Carolina are now at the highest level—widespread level. Experts also predict a severe flu season since the main circulating strain has changed, and this year’s vaccine is a poor match to that strain. That strain (H3N2) historically has caused severe disease, and the same outcome is being seen this year.
Since vaccines are not 100% effective, all patients and visitors are still strongly encouraged to wear a mask when entering the facilities, even those who already had a flu vaccine. Vaccine is the best prevention available and masks provide added protections for the community and their loved ones.
Data suggests infected persons can transmit the virus as much as 24 hours before displaying symptoms. This recommendation helps protect patients, visitors, and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms occur.
Those who are displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness are being asked not to visit patients at area hospitals. Symptoms of flu include: fever and respiratory illness symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Other measures to limit the spread of disease, especially flu, are: stay home when sick, wash hands frequently, get vaccinated and cough into sleeves or tissues.
The area hospitals and emergency departments participating include, Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center, Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital, Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center, Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Halifax Regional Hospital, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Riverside Doctors’ Hospital, Riverside Regional Medical Center, Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, Sentara CarePlex Hospital and Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex, Sentara Leigh Hospital, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Heart Hospital, Sentara Obici Hospital, Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Sentara Freestanding Emergency Departments at BelleHarbour, Port Warwick, Independence, and Lake Ridge, Southampton Memorial Hospital, Martha Jefferson Hospital, Martha Jefferson Emergency Department at Proffit Road and Sentara RMH Medical Center