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Area Hospitals Announce Collective Masking Recommendation as Precaution against Widespread Flu Levels

Jan 10, 2017

Public health officials report seasonal influenza-like illness in Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina is now at a high level.

Effective immediately, local area hospitals and healthcare systems strongly recommend all patients and visitors, including those seeking outpatient services, wear a mask inside hospitals, medical facilities and physician practices to protect the community from the spread of flu. Masks and hand sanitizer are available at facility entrances for public use.

All patients and visitors, even those who already had a flu vaccine, are strongly encouraged to wear masks inside healthcare facilities. Vaccine is the best prevention available, but they are not 100% effective. Masking provides an added layer of protection from the potentially deadly disease. 

As healthcare providers, our goal is to protect the community from disease. Data suggests infected persons can transmit the virus as much as 24 hours before displaying symptoms. This community-wide recommendation helps protect our patients, visitors and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms occur. 

Individuals displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness are asked not to visit patients at area hospitals. Symptoms of flu include fever and respiratory illness symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The recommendation to wear a mask when entering healthcare facilities will remain in effect during the flu season while the disease is at widespread levels.

Additional measures to limit the spread of disease, especially flu, include washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, getting vaccinated and coughing into sleeves or tissues.

Participating medical entities include:

Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center

Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital

Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center

Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth

Riverside Doctors’ Hospital

Riverside Regional Medical Center

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital

Riverside Walter Reed Hospital

Sentara Albemarle Medical Center

Sentara CarePlex Hospital and Orthopedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex 

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital

Sentara Leigh Hospital

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital

Sentara Martha Jefferson Emergency Department at Proffit Road

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Heart Hospital

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Sentara Obici Hospital

Sentara Princess Anne Hospital

Sentara RMH Medical Center

Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital

Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center

Sentara Freestanding Emergency Departments at BelleHarbour, Port Warwick, Independence and Lake Ridge