The Rhode Island Department of Health has declared widespread influenza activity in the state. According to the South County Health department of infection prevention, South County Hospital is experiencing a rise in the number of positive cases for influenza. Lee Ann Quinn, RN, CIC, director of infection prevention and control at South County Health, they are also experiencing an increase in other respiratory illness from bronchitis to pneumonia.
While getting the flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chance of getting the flu, Lee Ann suggests a number of ways to prevent the spread of infection.
“Always be vigilant in making sure that equipment at work or surfaces at home are cleaned to reduce the amount of ‘bugs’ from spreading to others,” she said. “Things we share, landline phones, computers, remotes, etc., can lead to the spread of viruses.”
Washing your hands often throughout the day helps eliminate the germs that cause illness, Lee Ann said. When a sink isn’t accessible, use a purifying gel or other disinfectant to kill dangerous bacteria on your hands.
Staff and visitors at South County Hospital are encouraged to use an UV machine located in the cafeteria, where cell phones, pagers, IPADS, and similar objects can be disinfected by ultraviolet rays.
There is no such thing as washing your hands too much. Washing your hands is an easy thing to do that significantly reduces the spread of infection.
When washing hands with a non-antimicrobial or antimicrobial soap:
• Wet hands first with warm water
• Apply the recommended amount of product to use and rub hands together vigorously for at least 15 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers.
• Rinse hands with warm water and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
• Use towel to turn off faucet.
When decontaminating hands with a waterless antiseptic agent such as an alcohol-based hand rub:
• Apply product to palm of one-hand and rub hands together, covering all surfaces of hands and fingers rubbing until hands are dry.
• Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the volume of product to use. If an adequate volume of an alcohol-based hand scrub us used, it should take 15 to 20 seconds for hands to dry.
Flu shots are available at South County Health’s primary care practices and Express Care locations. If you need a flu shot and don’t know where to get one, call the South County Health Flu Clinic Hotline – 401-788-1641.
If you have signs and symptoms of the flu and need to see a healthcare professional, contact one of our primary care physicians or visit an Express Care near you.