Be a good hospital visitor during flu season
Keeping your loved ones healthy during their healthcare stay should be one of your top priorities, medical experts at UHS say.
If you’re visiting a friend or family member at a hospital or nursing home, it’s important to be a good visitor and employ the basic principles of infection prevention - especially during flu season, according to the UHSH Infection Prevention and Control team.
To prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses, most healthcare facilities have policies in place that limit visitors during the flu season. Often, these policies prohibit visitors who are age 12 or younger because children often carry viruses without exhibiting any signs or symptoms of illness.
Although nearly everyone becomes a healthcare patient at some time in their lives, certain individuals are at a higher risk of getting sick when they’re exposed to illness, including:
- People age 65 or older
- People who are immunocompromised, such as those with HIV, hepatitis or cancer
- People who live with, or care for, the immunocompromised or elderly
- Pregnant women
- People who have chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease
You can take several steps to prevent spreading viruses to others. Always follow these when you are visiting a healthcare facility:
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean your hands often, especially before entering and after exiting the hospital room.
- Use soap and water to wash your hands or an alcohol-based hand rub to disinfect your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Get your flu shot. The best way to prevent the flu and spreading illness is by getting vaccinated each year.
When you aren't feeling well, you and your loved ones should avoid close contact with people who are sick, so it's best to stay home.
Don't visit anyone in a healthcare facility if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny or congested nose
- Body aches
- Nausea and/or vomiting
If the person you are visiting is on transmission-based precautions (such as contact, droplet or airborne isolation), talk to the nurse before entering the room to find out what steps you will have to take, such as wearing a mask, gown or gloves.
In many different healthcare settings, transmission-based precautions are used to help stop the spread of germs from one person to another.
The goal is to protect patients, their families, other visitors and healthcare workers — and stop germs from spreading across a healthcare setting.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is a serious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses, which can create mild to severe illnesses.
Seasonal influenza activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
The flu is associated with approximately 200,000 hospital admissions, and as many as 49,000 deaths annually in the United States.
Medical experts recommend that everyone six months of age and older get the flu vaccine.