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The United States is now in the midst of what healthcare experts are calling an “epidemic,” following a major increase in flu cases at hospitals nationwide. The Infectious Disease team at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center is proactively responding to the potentially severe flu season in northern New Jersey by implementing plans to protect patients, visitors and staff members.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control counts New Jersey among 41 states with widespread influenza activity. Since October, the New Jersey Department of Health has been tracking the influenza activity level throughout the state and reports Bergen County’s levels ranging from moderate to high in the last five weeks.
Englewood Hospital has seen a surge in flu-related Emergency Room visits and admissions, particularly among the elderly. In response to the growing threat, the Medical Center staff is working around the clock to protect the community, including stocking up on flu-related supplies and testing kits, vaccinating patients and employees and implementing temporary visitor restrictions at the hospital. Visitors under the age of 18 are not permitted in select areas of the hospital, including the NICU, Adult ICU and Pediatrics department. Sick visitors have been asked to avoid visiting friends and loved ones at the hospital until their symptoms are gone.
“Self-protection is also key,” explained Steven Weisholtz, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease at Englewood Hospital. “The best possible weapon against the flu is the vaccine.”
However, new reports show some cities throughout the U.S. are experiencing a vaccine shortage, though Englewood Hospital is not affected at this time, thanks to the careful preparation by its staff.
While the flu affects people of all ages, doctors say this year’s particular strain is most severe in children and the elderly. If you are unable to get a flu shot, there are a few other ways to protect yourself and those around you. Englewood Hospital offers an educational public service announcement on its YouTube channel featuring flu-fighter “Dr. Rich Lather,” who offers the following health tips to protect against the flu:
· Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
· Avoid touching your face, specifically your eyes, nose or mouth.
· Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the crook of your elbow.