October is upon us — and so is the start of flu season
As you know, older adults (and their caregivers) are at greater risk for influenza and related complications. Between now and May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that nursing homes take a multifaceted approach to prevent the spread of influenza. Of course, the first step is administering flu vaccine to both residents and caregivers. In fact, it’s the most effective way to reduce the risk.
There are other ways as well, including implementing respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, managing ill residents appropriately and adhering to infection control precautions for all resident-care activities. Even simple things such as washing your hands properly can make a big difference. Common sense plays a big role as well; for example, if a caregiver is sick, don’t come to work.
Our goal is to make managing flu season as simple as possible for you, so we’ve prepared a handy guide on page 2. Please feel free to make copies and display it prominently in the common areas of your facility. If you have any questions, just let us know.
Managing the flu at your facility
If you’d like specific advice on prevention and treatment options for your facility, our pharmacy consultants can work with your Infection Control Committee to develop the best approach for you. This may include, for example, how to treat residents with special conditions, such as kidney or liver disease.
“Every flu season, some new challenge appears.
That’s why we’re here.”
— Jen Devinney, PharmD. Director of Consulting and Medical Records Grane Rx
“Flu season can be a stressful time for facilities,” said Jen Devinney, PharmD., Director of Consulting and Medical Records at Grane Rx. “Many reach out to us each year for the latest information and specific recommendations. We do all we can to ease the burden.” This includes helping facilities prepare for and manage not only this year’s flu season, but also next year’s as well. “For example, some nursing homes order vaccine in advance,” she said. “Every flu season, some new challenge appears. That’s why we’re here.”
FLU MANAGEMENT GUIDE
Please display in the common areas of your building.
4 Ways to avoid spreading infection
Sick staff members and visitors should stay home until well.
- Wear gloves if you might have hand contact with respiratory secretions or potentially contaminated surfaces.
- Wear a gown if your clothes might come into contact with a resident’s respiratory secretions.
- Change gloves and gowns after contact with each infected resident.
- Whether you wear gloves or not, be sure to wash your hands before and after touching each resident, the resident’s environment or after touching his/her respiratory secretions. Wearing gloves is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
If a resident has or is suspected to have the flu
The CDC recommends the following Droplet Precautions:
- Place ill residents in a private room. If one isn’t available, place ill or potentially ill residents together.
- Before entering a resident’s room, wear a surgical or procedure facemask. Remove and dispose of it after leaving the room.
- If you must move the resident, have him/her wear a facemask, if possible. Let the appropriate staff know that the resident has suspected, probable or confirmed influenza.
For confirmed cases of the flu that are contained on specific units or floors
- Generally, it is recommended NOT to treat the entire facility—just the impacted units or floors.
- Give priority to residents who have not been vaccinated yet over those who have had a vaccination in the past.
- Staff members who have been exposed to the influenza virus should not be transitioned to a unit that does not have the virus.
- Consider conducting therapy and activities in resident rooms, until the virus has passed.
About Grane Rx
Grane Rx is the complete pharmacy solution for 32 long-term care communities serving 4,500 residents in Pennsylvania. Known for technological innovation and putting the needs of customers first, Grane Rx simplifies pharmacy services in a changing and challenging healthcare world.
Have questions about how to manage this year’s flu season?
Contact your Grane Rx representative at 412-449-0504 or visit www.granerx.com for more information.
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