In the past month, HRMC has documented a more than 50 percent increase in visits to its emergency department.
“Our lab has performed a lot of flu tests since the beginning of the year and we’re still continuing to see increased numbers of positive flu test outcomes,” said Brenda Vincent, HRMC infection prevention nurse.
HRMC reports the following spike in positive flu tests since November when there was one and in December when there were none.
January saw 10 cases and February saw 99. The increase is expected to continue throughout March.
These numbers do not include additional influenza-like illness treated.
“Exceptionally high flu spikes lasting extended periods of time are rare, in fact Halifax Regional has not seen elevated flu numbers like these in decades,” said Will Mahone, president and CEO. “Flu seasons are especially challenging for any medical center, but we want the community to know we’re doing everything we can to reduce wait times and treat people as quickly and effectively as possible.”
In response to this increase in influenza activity, Halifax Regional is also asking community members not to visit unless you are a patient in need of treatment.
It is also implementing visitation guidelines to decrease the spread of influenza among patients, visitors, and staff.
HRMC recommends if you have not yet received a flu vaccination, it’s not too late as they are still available. “Getting vaccinated is the best measure to increase chances of avoiding the flu and decrease the risk of influenza spreading to others. In 2011, Halifax Regional implemented mandatory flu shots for all physicians, staff, board members, and volunteers,” it said in a statement.
Flu prevention stations have been set-up at all entrances and are placed throughout the facility. The stations include personal protective equipment, such as hand sanitizer and face masks, to keep patients, visitors, and staff safe.
Basic precautionary measures should be taken as proper hygiene remains the best defense to prevent common viral respiratory diseases. Personal hygiene and prevention of germ-spreading includes:
Frequent hand-washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer
Covering mouth when coughing and sneezing
Sanitary disposal of discharges from mouth and nose