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PWL communities remain diligent
to keep the flu at bay in 2019

January 10th, 2019

‘So far so good’, is how Points West Living communities are describing their experience of this round of Seasonal Influenza among residents and care partners. A few cases have been reported, and in most communities, prevention and quick response have averted outbreaks. However, the flu season has a few months to go, so nobody is resting easy yet.

Sanitizing and keeping symptoms contained

“We have been fortunate that we have not had an ‘outbreak’ in our community since Christmas 2016, our opening year,” says Tracy Sutherland, GM of PWL Red Deer. “Housekeeping and Health Care have stepped up their game on sanitizing and keeping symptoms contained.”

Seasonal influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease, which typically starts with a headache, chills and cough, followed rapidly by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. For most people, influenza is a relatively mild illness, but for anyone, particularly those with compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or heart conditions it can be extremely serious.

Immunization still available

The first line of influenza defence was taken back in October when most Points West Living residents, care partners, and family members got their flu shots, which will prevent or minimize the severity of an influenza infection. It’s not too late to get your flu shot. Alberta Health Services and Immunize BC are still offering free immunizations in every area of each province.

Constant cleaning

The second precaution our communities take is constant and meticulous cleaning. The influenza virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes; the expelled droplets spread to surfaces which other people touch and then touch their own mouth, eyes, or nose.

No touching!

That brings up the remaining precautions: ‘cover your cough’, ‘wash your hands’, ‘avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth’, and ‘if you’re sick, stay home’.

Everyone can contribute to influenza prevention and management. That includes visitors to our communities. “We have signs on the doors asking visitors to use hand sanitizers,” says Stettler GM, Carol Dyck, whose community is so far outbreak-free for the second year in a row, “and we’ve put out extra hand pumps at our entrances.”

A tough experience

Wondering what happens when there is an ‘outbreak’? Read last January’s PWL News article: Following best practice limits the spread of Seasonal Influenza, but it’s still a tough experience for all.

Photo: Photo: Health Care Aide, Jackie Orbeck is doing her part to keep surfaces influenza-free at PWL Lloydminster. The community started preventative measures back in the fall, including extra sanitizing of railings and door knobs; ensuring there is hand sanitizer available in dining rooms for residents to use before each meal; putting up signs at the front door cautioning anyone with flu symptoms to refrain from visiting; and setting up a table at the front entrance with masks and hand sanitizer for guests.

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