Hospitals protecting patients, staff from flu - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Hospitals protecting patients, staff from flu

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By: Megan Palera

It's not just daycares dealing with the flu outbreak. Hospitals and nursing homes are also stepping up prevention efforts.

For the past 6 weeks, Scott Blomker has been living at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. Badly injured in a car accident, he's trying to heal and hoping not to get the flu again.

"Body ache, temperature, in bed for a day," Blomker said.

That was a few years ago. Now he's been vaccinated and relies on the hospital staff to keep him and others healthy. The facility is certainly ramping up prevention efforts. 92% of Madonna employees are vaccinated. For those who don't have the flu shot, they're required to wear masks.

"During this time of heightened awareness with influenza, it does help to keep the symptoms down when people who have not been vaccinated are wearing masks when they're at work," Infection Prevention Coordinator Kristi Felix said.

The visitor policy has also changed. If you're sick, stay home. If not, you're also asked to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer when you first come in the building.

Already with two deaths from the flu in Lancaster County and nearly 300 confirmed cases of influenza in the state, this is shaping up to be one of the most intense flu seasons we've seen in a decade.

"Somewhat concerned but the staff here - the people who haven't got the flu shot - wears the mask and a lot of the other people are wearing their mask just because of the flu. (So you feel safe?) Oh yea, very much so," Blomker said.

The experts say prevention is not hard. Wash your hands a lot and don't touch your mouth, nose and eyes until you do. And don't get too close to someone sneezing and coughing.

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