No, we are not panicking, but yes, there's a lot of flu about. Boston has just declared a flu-related health emergency, citing 700 confirmed cases thus far compared to 70 all last year.
In an alert to its staff, Massachusetts General Hospital reports that it's seeing a flu season of "impressive intensity," with an additional 40 to 80 patients with flu-like illness per day at the hospital's health centers, outpatient clinics and emergency department.
"This has strained capacity to its limits. Likewise, many inpatient beds have been closed to isolate influenza patients, and hospital and practice staffing has been stressed by illness within their own ranks," says the alert from Jeanette Ives Erickson, Mass. General's senior vice president for patient care and chief nurse.
The memo lays out "best practices" for infection control that many a workplace may want to post and disseminate. To wit: (Slightly modified to remove some specifics, and still somewhat hospital-oriented)
• No Heroes! Staff with flu-like [illness] should leave the office and STAY HOME per the protocols of Occupational Health:
Do not come to work if you have a fever of 100.5°F or more and one or more of the following symptoms:
§ Runny nose or nasal congestion
§ Sore throat
§ Body aches
• If symptoms start at work, do not wait to report symptoms or delay leaving work, as you are potentially infectious to others. You do not need to come to Occupational Health, but should report your illness to one of the nurses.
• If you are suspected of having or it is known that you have the flu you will be required to remain out of work until your fever is gone for 24 hours (without the use of anti-fever medication).
• Please ensure that you follow protocols for giving patients and visitors masks at the earliest opportunity.
• Please continue to actively encourage colleagues to get a flu vaccine.
• Staff who have not yet had a flu shot must wear protective masks, per MGH policy.
Readers, would you like to see anything like this up in you workplace? Other suggestions?
This program aired on January 9, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.