LUFKIN, TX (News Release) - The Texas Department of Health has confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu virus in the East Texas Area. With this in mind, Memorial Health System of East Texas is taking extra precautions to keep patients, employees and guests as safe as possible.
According to Peggy Mortensen, COO and System Vice President of Clinical Operations for Memorial, when patients arrive to the Emergency Room (ER) with flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and more, they will be asked to wear a surgical mask. Likewise, employees will be wearing masks when working with potential flu patients.
"By wearing a mask, patients can help prevent the spread of the disease to those in the Emergency Room who may not have the virus and are here for other reasons," Mortensen said.
The Texas Department of Health is reporting that the flu is more virulent this year and East Texas as well as nationwide is seeing an increase in cases. Across the East Texas region, 28 counties have had lab tests confirmed Flu A and 17 of those counties confirmed the 2009 strain of H1N1. The number one thing people can do to prevent the flu is get vaccinated and, should you get the flu, symptoms are often less severe. Most cases of severe flu have been young to middle aged people who did not receive a flu vaccine.
Memorial encourages the community to remember the basics of Flu Prevention.
- Get vaccinated. It is not too late and various places around the community still have flu vaccine available.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.
- Sneeze or cough into your elbow or sleeve as you are less likely to cough or sneeze onto those around you. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- If you are sick with the flu, do not go to work where the disease can spread to co-workers and customers.
- If you think you have the flu, seek care early, especially if there are underlying conditions, illness or if you are pregnant.
The most important thing to remember is that it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. People 6 months and older are encouraged to get vaccinated, especially expectant mothers, young children and the elderly.
"We are taking the necessary precautions at Memorial to limit the spread of this disease throughout the system," Mortensen stressed. "Employees are required to wear masks when dealing with patients thought to have the flu. Our employees are also encouraged to get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available until the end of the flu season."