The Odessa Record -

Visitor restrictions


January 25, 2018

Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center has released new visitor restrictions in an effort to prevent the spread of illnesses during the 2017-2018 flu season. The Center for Disease and Control Prevention has predicted this flu season could reach near epidemic levels. An uptick in flu and flu-related illnesses has been observed in the region since the beginning of the year.

The CDC reports that Region 10 (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) has widespread activity with a 30.4 percent increase in positive flu specimens through clinical laboratories. This does not include all flu occurrences, just those reported to the CDC.

Odessa Memorial has established the following visitor restrictions to help curb the spread of the flu in Lincoln County:

• Patients are limited to two visitors at any one time,

• Visitors must stop at the nurses’ station prior to visiting,

• Visitors must be 18 years of age or older, or must be immediate family and

• Visitors who are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, etc.) are asked to refrain from visiting until their symptoms subside.

Visitor restrictions similar to those at Odessa Memorial are being implemented in hospitals across the nation due to the near epidemic levels of flu cases being reported. Nationwide, the CDC reports 20 children have died from flu-associated deaths as of January 6, 2018. The same time last year, three children had died from the illness.

The hospital and the Lincoln County Health Department, along with the CDC, continue to recommend getting a flu shot to anyone who has not already received one.

“It’s not too late in the season to get a flu shot,” said Diana Finkbeiner, Infection Control Officer at Odessa Memorial. “We don’t know the efficacy rate for this year’s vaccine yet, but some protection is better than none.” The CDC stated that flu vaccines are typically 50 percent effective against influenza B and reported the B strain is present in about 17 percent of those testing positive for the flu this year. So far this season, influenza A, H3N2, has been the most common form of influenza. These viruses are often linked to more severe illness, especially among children and people age 65 and older.

“When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths,” said CDC spokesperson, Brenda Fitzgerald, in a recorded update on January 12. “We also continue to recommend the flu vaccine. While our flu vaccines are far from perfect, they are the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu and it is not too late to get one.”

Fitzgerald said the best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu is through everyday good health habits like covering your mouth when you cough and frequently washing your hands, limiting contact with others who might be sick and staying home when you are sick to help prevent the spread of germs and respiratory illnesses like the flu. “These are the most important measures that we all should be doing.”

The flu can be especially harmful to vulnerable populations including children under the age of five, adults over the age of 65, individuals with chronic diseases and pregnant women. “Taking precautions against the flu benefits not only you, but others around you,” Finkbeiner said. “Protecting our patients is high priority and this is why we are taking proactive steps with these visitor restrictions for the hospital.”

The Odessa Clinic has flu vaccinations available. For more information about the vaccine, or to make an appointment, call 509-982-2614.


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