Area hospitals fight the spread of flu - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Area hospitals fight the spread of flu

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A new display stands in the entrance of the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, warning visitors to take flu precautions before being around patients.

"We know we transmit influenza, we know influenza kills people, especially the elderly or those who are fragile or children. So, this is one way we are protecting our patients," said Michelle Lebeau of CVPH.

New legislation for New York State requires all personnel in health care and residential facilities and agencies working with patient care to get a flu shot or wear a medical mask.

"If you choose to sign a declination because you choose not to get the vaccine or are medically unable to get the vaccine, then you have to wear a mask whenever you may come in contact with a patient," Lebeau said.

Medical professionals say the legislation has been considered by the state for years, but became a bigger issue after H1N1.

At Fletcher Allen Health Care in Vermont, legislation does not require vaccines or the use of masks, but the hospital encourages staff members to get the vaccine. And 71 percent have.

At Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, all staff members must get the shot or wear a mask.

At CVPH, representatives say about 70 percent of the hospital staff received the vaccine, totaling more than 2,000 employees so far.

"The employees want what's best for the patients. And we talk a lot about the fact that this is not just about patients, but the employees-- keeping ourselves safe, keeping our children safe, protecting our parents, spouses, significant others," Lebeau explained.

Some medical experts say there is not much data showing wearing a mask actually reduces transmission of flu from provider to patient, but CVPH says if worn appropriately, they help.

"If they become moist or get torn or you're going in and out of a room that's an isolation room, you have to change them with isolation protocol. They tear, you change them. They get wet, you change them. And that will maintain the reliability of a mask," Lebeau said.

The new policy starts at CVPH Nov. 1.

Volunteers and vendors who come to CVPH are required to follow the same policy as the staff.

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