Preventing the flu is the single best way to keep yourself healthy and slow the spread of the influenza viruses. Here’s what Northwestern Memorial is doing and what you can do to prevent the viruses and keep them from spreading.
What Northwestern Memorial Hospital is doing
- Providing healthcare kiosks - We take the health of our patients, our employees and the community very seriously. There are kiosks installed throughout the hospital where anyone can get masks, sanitizing wipes and tissues to help reduce the spread of viral and bacterial infections – including influenza.
- Offering influenza vaccines - We offer the seasonal influenza vaccine to all employees free of charge.
- Educating our staff and the public - We’re working to educate the public and our staff about the importance of prevention and limiting the spread of influenza. As a part of our staff education, we have isolation policies in place for any patient who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and hospital staff know that they need to follow these policies at all times.
- Keeping sick patients protected - We have protective policies in place for healthcare workers and visitors to wear a mask with any patient who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and hospital staff know that they need to follow these policies at all times.
- Promoting clean hands - We work hard to ensure that all healthcare workers and visitors clean their hands frequently, and always when entering and leaving any patient's room
- Screening our visitors - We are asking all visitors to avoid coming to the hospital if they feel unwell.
- Protecting patients from sick caregivers - If our caregivers get sick, they must stay home from work for seven days or until they have been fever-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This will help limit transmission of influenza from staff to patients.
What you can do
- Get the flu vaccines
- The seasonal flu vaccine is available now, and all are encouraged to get it. However, people in certain age and risk groups should always get the vaccine. (You may not be able to get the vaccine if you have an egg allergy or certain other conditions. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions). For a complete list of who these groups are, see recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- If you are sick, stay home and away from others - When you have the flu, you are contagious 24 hours before you show symptoms and may continue to be contagious even after you are feeling better. If you have any flu symptoms, even if they are mild, we recommend that you stay home and away from public places except to receive medical care until you’ve been fever free, without the aid of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. If you have flu symptoms but no fever, check with your healthcare provider about when you can return to normal activities. While you are sick, you should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events and public gatherings.
- Clean your hands frequently - We recommend thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel and wipes as often as possible. Keeping your hands away from your face and the faces and hands of others and washing your hands before eating or drinking can help prevent the spread of viral and bacterial infection.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing - When you sneeze or cough, any germs you have can be spread to others. You can reduce the spread of germs by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue any time you sneeze or cough. If you don’t have a tissue, we recommend coughing or sneezing into your shirt sleeve rather than into your hands.
- Try to avoid close contact with others who are sick – Whenever possible, stay away from people who are sick. If you must care for a sick person, wash your hands frequently and consider following the CDC’s guidelines for caring for people with the flu.
- Talk with your doctor if you have questions - This is especially important if you are a member of a high-risk group.
Learn more about prevention of the flu from some of our trusted sources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services flu Web site
- The Illinois Department of Public Health
- The State of Illinois
Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011