Protecting patients and staff of St. Luke’s Hospital

Published 11:54am Saturday, December 22, 2012

The flu season has arrived, and St. Luke’s Hospital has implemented the flu policy hospital-wide due to the recent positive results in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with influenza like illness (ILI). St. Luke’s Hospital would like to urge residents who have not yet been vaccinated to get their flu vaccine.

To protect our patients, visitors and staff, patients with ILI symptoms are required to wear a mask when outside of a patient room such as in the ED lobby, transport, ambulating in hallways, waiting room, chapel, etc. All visitors are asked to refrain from visiting if they have ILI symptoms.

St. Luke’s Hospital also requires staff members to wear a mask if they declined the influenza vaccine or if they have not yet developed immunity (it has not been more than two weeks since vaccination.) This is for the community’s safety.

“The flu can often be much worse than the common cold,” said Thomas Dashiell, MD and Hospitalist of St. Luke’s Hospital. “Colds will generally last a few days, while the flu can last much longer. Complications from colds are relatively minor, but seasonal flu can lead to pneumonia and hospitalizations. If you have symptoms or complications, it’s important to see your doctor.”

The common cold and flu are both contagious viral infections. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Nasal congestion, sore throat and sneezing are common with colds according to Dr. Dashiell. Both colds and flu bring coughing, headache and chest discomfort.

“With the flu, though, you are likely to run a high fever for several days and have headache, body aches, fatigue and weakness,” he said.

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms of seasonal flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion and cough. 

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