CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – Hudson Valley Hospital Center is urging visitors and outpatients to stay at home if they have the flu or suspect they are getting it.
“Unless you have a condition that needs emergency department care, the hospital is the last place you should be if you have the flu,” said Barbara Savatteri, director of infection control at Hudson Valley Hospital Center. “We are asking visitors who have the flu to stay at home. You don’t want to spread the flu to your hospitalized loved ones or the staff that takes care of them.”
Asking sick visitors to stay at home is one of several health precautions that the hospital is taking during the influenza outbreak. Visitors and outpatients who exhibit flu symptoms will be asked to wear masks. The hospital is also restricting children under 12 from visiting and is asking sick outpatients to reschedule their appointments, if possible.
On Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency in New York, one of more than 40 states where the flu is at epidemic levels. Two children in New York and 18 children across the United States and have died from this year’s influenza.
The governor's declaration allowed pharmacists around New York to administer flu shots to children between 6 months and 18 years old. Normally, under New York education law, pharmacists can administer vaccinations only to people over 18 years old.
Hospital officials said the best way to protect against the flu is still to get a flu shot, and that flu vaccine still is available. Flu shots are available from your doctor and at many neighborhood pharmacies, and hospital officials recommended checking the Westchester County or Putnam County Health Department websites for local clinics where flu shots are available.
The hospital always has infection control policies in place, Savatteri said, but has stepped up its effprts and is asking the public to do its part to help stop the spread of the flu.
Savatteri said that in most cases people with the flu do not need to visit the emergency room.
“If you have flu-like symptoms, please call or see your primary care physician before coming to the emergency department,” she said. “Of course if you feel you are in need of emergent care, please don’t hesitate to come to the emergency department.”