NH offers advice to avoid spreading infectious diseases to hospitalized patients or seniors care home residents

Northern Health is advising potential visitors to patients and residents in hospitals and long-term care homes to take precautions to avoid the spread of infectious diseases. This warning follows an increase in Influenza A and Norovirus activity in the region.

NH Medical Health Officer Dr. Lorna Medd has recommended:

1.People who have symptoms of an infectious disease including (but not limited to) a cold, flu, or stomach flu to not visit until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours. This will help stop the spread of disease to patients/residents;

2.Anyone visiting a hospital or care facility to make sure they wash their hands well for at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water… before, during, and after their visit.

“Patients in hospital or seniors in a long-term care facility can have compromised immunity,” said Dr. Medd. “So diseases that may be just a nuisance to healthy people can complicate already difficult health problems for people in hospitals and long-term care facilities. People with compromised immunity who’ve been vaccinated against diseases such as the flu still have some risk of infection, although their symptoms will be less severe than if they hadn’t been immunized.

“But by taking these simple precautions, we can help patients avoid a further illness that could jeopardize their health.”

Taking precautions before visiting can also help minimize the spread of illness to health care professionals in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

“The precautions around visiting are common-sense ones,” added Dr. Medd. “When it comes to hand washing, remember the following rules: wash your hands vigorously for at least half a minute or longer. Always use warm water and soap. And make sure you wash your hands after going to the bathroom, after person-to-person contact, and before preparing food or eating.”