Helping You to Prevent the Flu: Changes to Visitation Policy at Caldwell UNC Health Care

UPDATE:  The flu levels have been decreased to Local by the CDC. Flu restrictions for employees and visitors have been lifted. As of Monday, March 10, no masks are required for the general public or employees.

Valerie Kelly, CRNI
Infection Preventionist/Employee Health Nurse
Caldwell UNC Health Care

Helping You to Prevent the Flu:
Changes to Visitation Policy at Caldwell UNC Health Care are designed to protect patients, visitors, and staff by minimizing flu transmission.

Lenoir-(January 9, 2014)-As North Carolina has experienced a surge in cases of influenza, Caldwell is temporarily changing its visitation policy effective Tuesday, January 14, 2013 in order to help minimize the spread of flu in our community.  As of January 14, 2014 visitation by children and youth under 18 years of age (excluding current Student Interns and Volunteers), and anyone exhibiting signs or symptoms of influenza like illness, will not be allowed unless special exemptions apply.
                Exemptions include the parent(s) with a minor child being treated at Caldwell; the primary caregiver of a patient admitted to Caldwell’s inpatient unit; and those who are visiting the terminally ill. Exemptions will be made on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Nursing and/or Medical Staff responsible for the patient’s care.  Those visitors who have had exemptions granted will be identified by a wrist band and must wear a mask while on hospital grounds.
                 In order to protect our patients, visitors, and staff, Caldwell is asking everyone to self-screen for flu-like symptoms.  Sick employees and volunteers will be sent home and will not be allowed to return to work until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
                Visitors over 18 years of age will be asked to self-screen for fever and respiratory symptoms (flu-like illness).  These include nasal congestion, sore throat, and/or cough, chills, body aches, fatigue, and headache.  Anyone having these symptoms should follow the self-care guidelines for flu-like illness below and should not visit the hospital until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.  Those who develop flu-like symptoms during their visit are asked to wear a surgical mask, disinfect their hands, and leave the hospital immediately.
All staff and visitors will be expected to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when entering the hospital and/or any of our hospital practices.  Hand sanitizers are conveniently located outside the elevators, in patient rooms at Caldwell, and at the front desk of each practice.
                 These temporary changes supplement Caldwell’s internal efforts to minimize flu transmission including isolating patients who are sick with suspected flu and establishing a designated area for flu treatment if necessary. 
To self-care or to care for a family member or friend with flu-like illness, CDC recommends the person:
• Stay at home and avoid contact with others.  Do not travel, go to work or school for at least 24-hours after becoming fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicines.  Exceptions include leaving to get medical care, if needed, and to get necessities. 
Warning! Do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu; this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. For more information about Reye’s syndrome, visit the National Institute of Health website.” -  from CDC website at
• If you leave the house or share common space at home with others, wear a facemask (if available and tolerated).  If you share common space with someone at high risk for flu complications, this is especially important.
• Get plenty of rest and drink clear liquids (such as water, broth, electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from becoming dehydrated.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes.  Use tissue if available and throw used tissues immediately into the wastebasket.
• Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer, particularly after coughing or sneezing into hands.
• Watch for emergency warning signs that indicate you should seek immediate medical care (below).
               Anyone who feels that they need medical care (non-emergent or hospitalized care) is asked to contact his/her personal healthcare provider.   It is very important to contact your healthcare provider before going to his/her office for treatment.  Those without a personal physician or healthcare provider may contact PLUS Urgent Care at Anderson Medical Park (270 Pine Mountain Rd., Suite 4, Hudson - 757-6325); Falls Medical Park (4355 Hickory Blvd., Granite Falls - 757-5042); or Robbins Medical Park (322 Mulberry St., SW, Lenoir - 757-6460). 
Those at highest risk include:
• Children younger than 5 years old
• Adults 65 and older
• Pregnant Women
• Persons with certain chronic or immunosuppressive conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, emphysema, etc.)
• Persons younger than 19 who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
DO NOT use the Emergency Room for flu-like illness unless you have emergency warning signs.  These may include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worsening cough
• In babies: bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritation
Despite everything the medical community does to prepare for the flu some people will get sick with the flu.  It is a community-spread illness and exposure can occur anywhere.  That’s why it is up to everyone to help limit its spread.  To help prevent the flu at home and in our community, Caldwell UNC Health Care and CDC remind you to:
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you are unable to wash your hands
• Cough and/or sneeze into your sleeve or your elbow instead of your hands
• Get your flu shot as soon as possible unless contraindicated
• Stay home if you are sick.
To learn more, visit or 
                   Caldwell appreciates the public’s cooperation during this flu season.  By complying with the hospital’s temporary visitation policy changes, you are helping to minimize the spread of flu this flu season. 
PLUS Urgent Care, Anderson Medical Park, Falls Medical Park and Robbins Medical Park are divisions of Caldwell Memorial Hospital.