Kaitlin McKinley Becker

Ongoing Flu Season Has UVM Medical Center Emphasizing Prevention

The hospital’s lab says it has already seen more positive flu tests this year than last year

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Vermont is still experiencing widespread flu activity, as is the majority of the country.

The tough flu season has the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington encouraging prevention, and aiming to keep the community healthy.

In the hospital’s lab, pathologist Dr. Christi Wojewoda is busy, processing up to 60 flu tests each day from hospital patients. Wojewoda and her coworkers are checking for influenza A, B, and another respiratory disease.

“We have seen many more cases this year than last year, so we’ve been doing more testing, and more of our tests have been positive,” Wojewoda said. “More of our tests this year have been positive than all of last year.”

UVM’s infection prevention team is also staying vigilant on cleaning, primarily using hospital-grade disinfectants. The hospital also enhances its cleanliness plan by using robots that emit ultraviolet light to further sanitize certain patient care areas.

Physicians are also emphasizing prevention measures, including advising that you stay home if you’re not feeling well, and that you keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and face.

“It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Cindy Noyes, an infectious disease specialist at the UVM Medical Center. “Flu season can last into April, so we certainly have a possibility of many more weeks of exposure to this risk.”

Up in the hospital’s mother–baby unit, some visitors are now asked to wear surgical masks.

Those who say on a questionnaire in the entryway that they may have been exposed to the flu or have possible symptoms could be asked to simply go home and visit the new mom another time.

“We want to make sure that we’re able to keep the families who are here safe from the flu and the families who might be leaving safe from the flu, as well,” said Jennifer Robare, the head nurse of UVM’s mother-baby unit.

We’ve heard it a lot this flu season, but it bears repeating: doctors say one of the simplest and most effective ways to avoid getting sick is to practice excellent hand-washing hygiene.

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