By Kay Braddock
Prairie Community Hospital is responding to a flu epidemic that first struck the hospital’s staff and residents last week by closing off a portion of the hospital to guests and restricting the number of visits to the facility.
The flu outbreak was first noticed Thursday evening, requiring the hospital to close off front-door access during their annual fundraising holiday bazaar on Friday.
“We decided we would close down as much as we could and still keep the bazaar open,” said Director of Nursing Kay Schaaf. “We just didn’t want visitors mingling with the residents and taking it out to the community.”
Bazaar goers were directed to the hospital’s back door. The closure had little affect on the bazaar, Schaaf said.
The 24-hour flu symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
People at high risk for the flu include children younger than 2 years old, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women and people with preexisting medical conditions.
Almost all of the hospital’s staff and residents have been affected by the virus, Schaaf said, acknowledgeing she suffered a bout over the weekend. “It’s just making its rounds.”
Hospital staff are taking other preventative measures to decrease the spread of the virus by trading work schedules with one another and keeping children home from school. Normal weekly activities like men’s coffee and bingo have also been suspended for visitors for the week. Schaaf expects activities to resume by the weekend.
Hospitals and nursing homes in neighboring communities have also recently experienced flu outbreaks, Schaaf said. “(It) came in pretty fast.”
Published Dec. 7, 2011