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Barton Health offers tips to avoid the flu

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Barton Health is taking extra steps to help protect patients during flu season.

New for 2013, El Dorado County’s Public Health department has mandated that all healthcare workers wear masks while providing patient care if they have not been immunized for influenza. Barton Health is complying with this protocol in all of their South Lake Tahoe health facilities. During peak flu season, spanning from Dec. 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013, patients and visitors to Barton Health facilities will see some staff and physicians wearing masks. These are employees who have either declined a flu immunization or who are unable to get immunized due to medical reasons.

Vaccinated staff (those not wearing a mask) can be identified by a bright green sticker on their Barton Health ID badge. While Barton Health is taking every step to prevent the spread of flu, there are steps community members can take to help prevent getting or spreading the flu, according to officials.

Such tips include:

• Not visiting hospitalized patients if you are ill – especially if you have respiratory symptoms

• If you are visiting any health care facility for care with flu-like symptoms, please ask for a mask.

• Masks and hand sanitizer are available at multiple locations around the hospital and in physician offices. Ask staff if you need assistance.

• Get immunized with the influenza vaccine.

• Wash your hands often.

• If you have the flu or any other respiratory illness, be sure to cough or sneeze into your elbow.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home from work, school and other activities if you are sick.

For more information about the flu, go to www.bartonhealth.org/flu.