January 9, 2013
In an effort to protect patients and visitors from the spread of flu, effective Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Martha Jefferson Hospital – as well as the other nine hospitals in the Sentara system – strongly recommends all patients and visitors wear a mask upon entering hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, urgent care centers, and primary care physician offices.
This recommendation comes at a time when seasonal influenza cases are double the numbers experienced at this time last year. Virginia is in the third straight week of widespread flu, which the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite as the highest category of flu activity.
Since vaccines are not 100% effective, patients and visitors entering the facilities who have already had flu vaccines are strongly encouraged to wear a mask as an added protection for themselves and their loved ones.
Medical evidence suggests infected persons can transmit the virus as much as 24 hours before displaying symptoms. This recommendation will help protect patients, visitors, and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms occur.
Our goal as health care providers is to use every available and appropriate measure to protect the community, our patients, visitors, family members and staff from exposure to outside infections.
In addition, Martha Jefferson Hospital is asking that individuals displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness not to visit the hospital. Symptoms of flu include: fever and respiratory illness such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
The recommendation to wear a mask when entering health care facilities will remain in effect during the flu season and while prevalence of flu in the region is extraordinarily high.