January 6, 2014 – Effective Tuesday, hospitals and health care systems strongly recommend all patients and visitors wear a mask upon entering hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, urgent care centers, and branch clinics, including patients seeking outpatient services at hospitals.
A mask is also strongly recommended on arrival for patients and family members seeking care at associated physician practices.
The recommendation comes at a time when seasonal influenza cases in Virginia have reached the widespread level, which the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite as the highest level of flu activity.
Since vaccines are not 100% effective, patients and visitors entering the facilities who have already had a flu vaccine are still strongly encouraged to wear a mask, as an added protection for themselves and their loved ones.
Medical evidence suggests infected persons can transmit the virus as much as 24 hours before displaying symptoms. This recommendation will help protect patients, visitors, and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms occur.
Hospitals and health systems are also asking individuals displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness not to visit patients at area hospitals.
Symptoms of flu include: fever and respiratory illness such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
The recommendation to wear a mask when entering health care facilities will remain in effect during the flu season and while prevalence of flu in the region is extraordinarily high. Other safety measures to prevent the spread of flu could be considered as the flu season continues.
Participating hospitals and emergency departments include:
Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center
Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital
Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center
Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View
Chesapeake Regional Medical Center
Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters
Halifax Regional Hospital
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
Riverside Doctors’ Hospital
Riverside Regional Medical Center
Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital
Riverside Tappahannock Hospital
Riverside Walter Reed Hospital
Sentara CarePlex Hospital and Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex
Sentara Leigh Hospital
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Heart Hospital
Sentara Obici Hospital
Sentara Princess Anne Hospital
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center
Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center
Sentara Freestanding Emergency Departments at BelleHarbour, Port Warwick, Independence, Lake Ridge, and Lorton Marketplace
Martha Jefferson Hospital
Martha Jefferson Emergency Department at Proffit Road
Sentara RMH Medical Center