Greenwood Leflore Hospital enforces temporary visitor policy during flu season to protect patients

With the increase in the number of influenza infections in Mississippi and in our community, Greenwood Leflore Hospital has adopted a temporary visitor policy in an attempt to prevent the spread of the flu.

In the emergency room specifically, there are four large signs posted in the waiting area, a smaller sign in every treatment room, and patients and their family members receive a handout stating the rules of the new temporary policy.

Only one visitor is allowed to accompany a patient. No children under the age of 12 will be allowed into the treatment area unless they are the patient. Patients having a cough or flu- like symptoms are being asked to wear a mask. Visitors showing symptoms who refuse to wear the mask are being asked to leave the hospital.
Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, Dr. William Harper says, “The visitor policy has been put into place for the reason of protecting the community. We have to be mindful of the well being of our patients, any visitors and each other. Limiting exposure during this flu season is important to everyone involved.” He encourages citizens of the community to do their part to help prevent the spread of the virus and warns people should simply limit exposure by staying at home at this time. Harper reported, “We have seen type A for the past six weeks and now we’ve even had some cases of type B influenza.” He said that every patient testing positive for the flu had a high fever and body aches. Other symptoms include.
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Headaches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The flu can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be treated. Dr. Stephen Ashley, emergency room physician added, “Tami-flu can lessen the flu’s span of 7-8 days to 4-6 days and it can also decrease the severity of the symptoms.” He encourages patients to see their doctor soon if they begin to show symptoms.

Dr. Harper said, “Seek medical attention if necessary and it is not advisable to go to work or school; those testing positive need to stay at home, take analgesics, and drink plenty of fluids.” Harper suggests having someone go out and get medications and Gatorade for you if you have the flu.

Greenwood Leflore Hospital made the flu shot mandatory for all health care personnel affiliated with the hospital for the first time this year. Dr. Harper said, “It is just one more necessary precaution to protect our patients as well as our employees.”

Allison Harris, Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s infection preventionist said that often people avoid getting the flu vaccination due to the belief that it will make them get the flu. She said the flu shot may prompt other symptoms but it isn’t the flu. Harris says the benefits of the vaccination far outweigh the risks. Dr. Ashley said, “Young children, elderly people, people with respiratory problems, such as COPD, and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to contract the flu.” Both Harper and Ashley encourage everyone to get the vaccination every year. Allison Harris agreed “It is never too late in the season to get the shot.”