For immediate release – September 02, 2009
Contact: Dan Branyon, 864-725-4134
Self Regional Takes Precautions to Prevent Spread of Flu
GREENWOOD—Only those age 19 and up will be allowed to visit patients at Self Regional Healthcare beginning this Friday as the hospital seeks to prevent the spread of the flu in its medical center. The decision was made in response to the recent escalation of H1N1 flu among the school aged population in the Greenwood area.
“The flu virus currently circulating in Greenwood County is almost exclusively the H1N1 virus,” said Nancy Lumley, epidemiologist at Self Regional. “Unfortunately, it’s a virus that is very easily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces.” Health officials are estimating up to 40 percent of the United States population will be involved in this influenza outbreak, which began last spring and is expected to escalate further this fall.
In contrast, according to Mrs. Lumley, during prior seasonal flu episodes only 15 percent of the population has been affected. Existing immunities from past exposures helped keep seasonal flu in check, she added. “Because the H1N1 virus is a novel strain, immunity does not exist in our population,” she added. “Therefore, all of us are at risk of getting this flu strain.”“While we realize this is an inconvenience, the health and safety of our patients is our top priority,” Mrs. Lumley continued. “We would encourage youngsters to stay in touch with loved ones over the telephone, by e-mail or other means than a physical visit. I am certain we all want to do our utmost to protect our patients.” The new visitation restriction involving youngsters will remain in place until the outbreak subsides. That could be a matter of weeks or even months, Mrs. Lumley said.