Rangely District Hospital lists steps in staying healthy this year

rglydisthosplogoStaying healthy is an important part of living a full and active life. As we head into the 2009 influenza season, staying healthy becomes even more important. There are things you can do to keep yourself healthy during this time of year. Let’s discuss a few.
Get vaccinated. A yearly, seasonal, flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the seasonal flu. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three flu viruses that research indicates will be the most common this season, but is not effective against the H1N1 virus. An H1N1 flu vaccine is being developed and will be available in the near future.
Take preventative actions. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze to keep from spreading flu viruses, and then throw the tissue in the trash after using it. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after sneezing or coughing and avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth as germs are spread this way. It is also wise to avoid close contact with people who are ill and if you become ill, you should limit your contact with other to keep them from getting sick. If you do become sick, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical help or necessities. A fever is defined as 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius.
Take antiviral drugs if ordered by your physician. Antiviral drugs are prescribed medications that fight against the flu by keeping the viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs are especially important for people who are very sick or those who have a health condition that places them at greater risk of flu complications.
This flu season may be more severe because of the new H1N1 influenza virus in addition to the seasonal flu viruses. The H1N1 influenza (formerly referred to as “swine flu”) is a new virus causing illness and hospitalization throughout the United States. At the time this article was written, there were no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Rangely. However, data is constantly being gathered and patients are monitored on a case by case basis for any suspicions of the H1N1 virus.
If you are experiencing influenza-like symptoms, here are a few suggestions from our medical staff:
• Stay home. It is important not to spread the virus in the community if you believe you are ill with the flu. Staying home, resting, drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids, and taking Tylenol as directed for fever and body aches is the first line of treatment for influenza.
• If your medical condition worsens or if you have one of the following conditions, you should seek medical attention:
Cancer, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders, weakened immune systems, pregnancy, children younger than 5 years of age, individuals 65 years of age or older.
• Children with poor nutritional and fluid intake due to prolonged vomiting and diarrhea should be assessed by their health care provider.
• Any respiratory distress, i.e.: difficulty breathing, bluish color around lips, etc., should be assessed by a physician immediately.
If you do seek medical attention at Rangely District Hospital, we ask that you adhere to the following influenza protocol:
• Telephone the nursing staff at 675-5011 (hospital) or 675-2037 (clinic) to discuss your symptoms
• When coming to the hospital with flu-like symptoms, we ask that you enter through the emergency room entrance and ring the buzzer on the right hand wall to announce your presence and put a surgical mask on. A staff member will be with you shortly.
• In an effort to protect patients and staff at RDH, any person with flu-like symptoms will be placed in a private room in the emergency department while they are assessed by the physician.
For more information, contact Kelly Christian, RN, infection control practitioner for Rangely District Hospital at 675-5011 or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at www.cdc.gov.