Several ounces of prevention

A sign at Lakeview Health's Stillwater Medical Group clinic directs patients with flu-like symptoms to one area of the waiting room and all other patients to another area. (Photo courtesy of Lakeview Health

A sign at Lakeview Health’s Stillwater Medical Group clinic directs patients with flu-like symptoms to one area of the waiting room and all other patients to another area. (Photo courtesy of Lakeview Health

Lakeview Health takes steps in flu fight

As Minnesota nears the peak of influenza season, several local groups are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the flu in the community.

Lakeview Health has taken several steps at its Stillwater Medical Group office on Curve Crest Boulevard in Stillwater to prevent the flu from spreading among clinic visitors and staff.

And a Washington County health official said county school districts are encouraging parents to keep any of their children with respiratory illnesses home from school.

If there is any good news during what is becoming a busy flu season, it’s that no cluster of flu cases have been reported in the county, said Fred Anderson, an epidemiologist with the county’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

“We are not receiving direct reports of influenza cases,” he said. “What we pick up on at times are clusters. At this point, we are not hearing that.”

Meanwhile, Lakeview Health officials said several “protocols” are in effect at the SMG clinic. They include:

n Evening and weekend urgent care waiting rooms have separate designated areas for patients with flu-like symptoms and patients with other medical issues.

n Toys have been removed from lobbies and exam rooms.

n Any patients and family members exhibiting flu-like symptoms are asked to wear a mask by reception staff.

n Exam rooms are disinfected between patients.

n Employees are asked to wash their hands, cover their coughs, stay home if sick and disinfect their personal work spaces.

Anderson said other actions hospitals might consider include limiting visiting hours and excluding visitors.

Anderson said DPHE has not received reports of unusually school absences due to flu-like symptoms or high numbers of flu cases at nursing homes and other care facilities.

“The schools are communicating with parents and encouraging parents to keep their kids at home if they have respiratory illnesses,” he said.

Anderson encourages anyone who has not gotten an flu shot to get vaccinated. Registered nurse Julie Johnson, SMG’s clinical educator, said the clinic has “an adequate supply of flu vaccine.”

“We will continue to monitor our supply and communicate as needed,” she said. “Patients requesting vaccination will be offered an appointment in our injection room. They may also be seen at the Walmart clinic on a walk-in basis.”

Lakeview Health spokeswoman Lainie Steffen said the organization and its health care partners are monitoring the flu season and would respond as needed to offer the best care for patients.

There have been 60 confirmed influenza deaths in Minnesota since flu season started. But Anderson said county health officials have yet to receive reports of problems related to the virus.

“There definitely is flu out there,” he said. “We’re not receiving reports right now where facilities are stressed to the point where they contact us.”

 

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

 

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