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Assisted Living Facilities Insurance and Flu Prevention

This year has already seen several assisted living facilities falling victim to flu outbreaks. For example, Lane County public health officials announced an Influenza Type A outbreak in a Springfield, Oregon assisted living facility. More than 55 individuals showed signs of flu-like symptoms with nineteen requiring hospitalization.

Because of the poor or failing health of many of these residents these facilities need to conduct clinical assessments, disease surveillance, vaccinations and medical treatment in order to minimize disease transmission, both on-site and in the communities as a whole.

Influenza is a viral illness causing fever, respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, nasal congestion), and muscle or joint aches. Occasionally it also causes stomach and intestinal symptoms resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The virus is primarily spread through respiratory secretions making good respiratory hygiene a key part of staying well. This includes:

  • Covering of the mouth when coughing and sneezing

  • Frequently cleansing hands with either soap and water or sanitizer, and

  • Appropriate disposal of soiled tissues

  • It is important to note that the number of influenza cases may continue to rise across the nation and that it is not too late to receive a flu vaccination. Currently, there is an adequate supply of vaccine at multiple sites, including medical clinics, pharmacies and through the health department.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, 24,000 Americans die from the flu each year. Ninety percent of those deaths involve adults 65-years old and older. That's why retirement communities and assisted care facilities need to have plans in place to keep the flu away from their residents.

    Help keep the facility free of germs

    Proper prevention will provide relief from disease and ensure that residents who may be in poor health do not become adversely ill from contact with influenza or other flu-like symptoms. Planning and preparation activities should include:

    1.Encouraging all residents and persons who enter the facility to monitor themselves daily for influenza-like illness (fever, cough, and sore throat).

    2.Reminding employees and visitors with influenza-like illness that they should remain at home and avoid contact with other people when they are sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations are to stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

    3.Preparing signs and letters for use if visitors must be limited or other restrictions may be necessary during the influenza season.

    4.Reviewing environmental cleaning policies and procedures with housekeepers. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned routinely by wiping them down with a disinfectant.

    In addition to having proper protocols in place during flu season, also be sure that the entity's assisted living insurance is adequately protecting caregivers and the facility itself.

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