From Your Friends at CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, TX.
What is H1N1 Flu (formerly known as Swine Flu)?
This is a new type of influenza (flu) virus that causes respiratory disease that can spread between people. Most people infected with the virus in the United States have had mild disease, and so far there have been only two reported deaths in the US (both cases involved underlying health problems). Other countries, including Mexico and Canada have reported people sick with the same virus and it appears to be spreading from person to person in much the same way that the regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
What can you do to assist in preventing the spread of this or any flu virus?
Recommended practices from Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization:
• Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue away after you use it.
• Wash you hands often with soap and water, especially after you sneeze or cough. Alcohol based hand cleansers are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are spread this way.
• Stay home, if you are sick, for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you are symptom free for 24 hrs, which ever is longer.
What St. Catherine is doing:
• This is a time for heightened awareness and taking proactive steps to protect our patients, associates, families and our community.
• The number one way to prevent infection is through frequent hand washing. This is not new to our associates or medical team. We are proud of our compliance and adherence to this evidence based practice.
• The second best practice is adherence to cough etiquette. This too is not new to our facility. We have had in place for some time now our “Cover your Cough” campaign. This provides education on the importance of cough etiquette and how to carry out appropriate cough etiquette. We provide the tools to assist compliance through provision of signage, hand sanitizer dispensers and tissues throughout our facility. There are times, when necessary, when we may ask our patients and or visitors to wear a mask.
• Currently we are also screening all of our Emergency room visits and patient admissions for any flu like symptoms, adhering to the current Center for Disease Control Interim Guidance.
• We are asking visitors with flu like symptoms not to visit their loved one while they are symptomatic. Patients with current medical health problems are at greater risk for influenza associated illness.
• We are working closely with the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services; Texas Department of State Health Services; Center for Disease Control and other local authorities as needed.
The Center for Disease Control website has excellent resource information at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/general_info.htm This website is being updated frequently as we are able to attain more information on this new virus.