At the height of flu season, some West Virginia hospitals are changing their visitor policies to cut down on the risk of infection.
It’s mandatory for all employees at both Berkeley and Jefferson Medical Centers to get a flu shot. If they have an exemption, they’re required to wear a mask.
And just this week, patient visitor policies have changed. No one with a flu-like illness is allowed in. Patients can have a healthy visitor with them at all times, but they cannot have more than three people with them anywhere in the hospital.
“Flu can spread very rapidly if precautions aren’t taken,” said Kristyn Gore-Dinges, director of infection control at Berkeley Medical Center. “Any visitors that are exhibiting any flu-like symptoms…any cough, sneezing, fever…just please withhold from coming to the hospital. It increases the risk of flu being spread.”
Staff members at Berkeley Medical Center receive a weekly update from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, concerning the spread of the flu. If numbers increase in their area, they start following precautions.
“I think it’s pretty much standard, the number of cases we’ve seen so far,” Gore-Dinges added. “We do anticipate that it’s going to get worse.”
Even though it’s February, doctors say you can still get a flu shot. Even though it won’t always prevent you from catching the virus, it could make it less severe.
“It’s never too late to get a flu vaccine, especially since we have the season that carries through March 31,” Gore-Dinges said. “So, we do recommend anyone that’s not been vaccinated and is eligible to have one should get the flu vaccine.”
Medical officials said the rules will only be kept in place until the flu is no longer as widespread. According to the CDC, the flu season officially ends on the final day of March.