Lafayette General Medical Center has put extra control measures in place in response to the recent swine influenza health advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The hospital has also sent out an internal health alert to all employees, with basic facts about the disease, and has given hospital phone operators a basic script to follow for calls about swine flu.
"We are working to educate our employees, so we can better educate the public, on the facts about this infection," says Joan Stokes, Lafayette General Infection Control Practitioner. "People should try not to panic; we are treating this event like a severe seasonal influenza. Fortunately, the hospital has the basic procedures in place to deal with infectious disease spread by respiratory droplets, and are asking all employees to step up hand washing efforts, droplet precautions and surveillance."
As part of normal infection control procedures, influenza cases confirmed through the LGMC laboratory are monitored and reported to the Louisiana Office of Public Health (OPH) on a weekly basis throughout the year. Any trends noted are also immediately reported. At this time, per OPH, the hospital is not testing for the swine influenza strain (A/H1N1), but additional specimen collection protocol is in place.
"All clinical areas have been instructed to collect two nasal swabs when testing for influenza," says Stokes. "One will be used for rapid testing diagnosis, and the other will be refrigerated for subsequent testing if needed. In addition, as of April 24, Emergency Department physicians are screening patients for travel to the infected areas. This also includes those who have been in contact with ill persons from these areas in the 7 days prior to their illness onset."
Other preparations at Lafayette General continue apace. Any patients with influenza-like symptoms are provided a mask to avoid droplet transmission at triage. Stokes reports that microbiology is taking a count of existing rapid influenza test kits, and ordering more, while pharmacy is evaluating the hospital's stock of Tamiflu, an antiviral.
"Having good day-to-day protocols helps us to be ready to deal with this situation," concludes Stokes.
As the largest, full-service, acute-care medical center in the nine parishes of Acadiana, Lafayette General Medical Center's mission is to improve, maintain and restore the health of those in the community. The hospital is committed to quality, as evidenced by recent HealthGrades� Awards: Patient Safety Excellence, 2009, and Spine Surgery Excellence, 2009. For more information, visit http://www.lafayettegeneral.com/.