Influenza outbreaks have closed 15 seniors facilities in the Interior Health region this month, including Trail’s Columbia View Lodge (CVL).
So far, 24 residents and some members at CVL staff have been impacted by a respiratory infection, confirmed Karl Hardt, IH’s communications officer on Tuesday.
Two wings of the care home have been closed since Jan. 19 and the Special Care Unit since Jan. 21.
The last new case on any of the three units closed was Jan. 23, added Hardt.
“It is definitely influenza season,” Margot Wright, IH’s Recreation Therapist, reminds the public. “Take care and if you are feeling under the weather, please put your visits on hold until you are better.”
To check which facilities are on the Active Outbreak list, visit interiorhealth.ca and click on the ‘Your Environment’ link.
When the Medical Health Officer declares and outbreak, as is currently the case at CVL, the Staff Influenza Immunization and Exclusion Policy comes into effect.
During an outbreak, staff who have not had a flu shot can elect to take antiviral medication (Tamiflu) and return to work immediately or they wait until the outbreak is officially over before returning. Staff are not suspended, but are excluded from working at a site with an outbreak. This policy has been in place since 2003, and recognizes the risks to residents and patients are much higher during an outbreak situation.
Since Dec. 1, anyone entering hospitals and other medical settings including long-term care homes who didn’t get a flu shot have been asked to mask up.
“While staff will be able to assist visitors in the right way to put on the masks, they will not be enforcing it,” says Joanne Tench, KBRH’s infection control practitioner.
“The policy is in place because hospitalized patients and seniors in residential care are more vulnerable to the flu than healthy adults. The intent is to protect patients who may already have serious health issues from getting sicker due to the flu.”
Stations containing masks and hand sanitizer are readily available in all patient care areas of IH facilities.