Keeping employees healthy is a priority no matter the line of work, but when one’s business is health, the word “priority” is an understatement.
While doctors at Southampton Hospital say it is too early to assess the ferocity of this year’s flu season—the season typically begins in late fall or early winter, and peaks in the United States in January and February—the hospital staff is taking proactive steps to prevent it from spreading through its halls and reminding everyone it is never too late for a flu shot.
Prior to its annual free flu vaccine day in November, the hospital informed all employees that they had to be vaccinated, or they would be forced to wear a surgical mask at all times at the hospital. To enforce the rule, all staff members who had been vaccinated were given a sticker, visible to patients, to place on their ID badges.
The hospital is also stressing to its visitors that antiseptic wipes are available in all patient rooms, work stations and hallways, and that their use is encouraged.
“Flu prevention is a priority at our hospital, and our employees work every day to lessen the spread of flu virus by adhering to strict infection control practices and prevention guidelines,” said Deborah Maile, Southampton Hospital’s director of infection prevention. “We urge you to visit your physician if you have not already received a flu shot this year.”
Hospital spokeswoman Marsha Kenny stressed that even though flu season has already begun, getting the shot can still be greatly beneficial, adding that unlike in years past, there is plenty of vaccine available at physicians’ offices and most drugstores.
According to State Department of Health statistics, there were more than 45,000 cases of the flu recorded in-season last year, hospitalizing more than 9,500 people and killing 14 children.