Flu seasons tend to vary in severity, but I think it’s safe to say that this year is a doozy.
Numerous reports have been released about the virus hitchhiking across the nation, infecting many. And unfortunately, it seems like we’ve been inundated with news about viruses. First it was EV-D68, then Ebola, and now it’s the flu virus and the measles. If there is one thing we can learn from the spread of any illness, it’s the importance of preparedness from not just our healthcare providers, but from the general public.
Since hospitals’ and clinics’ waiting rooms are often occupied these days by those suffering from the flu or other pesky viruses, let’s start acknowledging and practicing protection measures to help defend against germs during visits.
Play the I Spy Game
When you walk into a waiting room, see how many protection measures you and your child can catch. This is a fun way to educate your kids on all the ways to stay germ-free in – and out – of the doctor’s office.
Here are the protocols that should be easily spotted in your healthcare providers’ waiting rooms:
- Hand sanitizer that’s easily reachable. How many hand dispensers or pumps can you spot?
- Antiviral facemasks for children and adults that are accessible the minute visitors step foot in the waiting room. Preferably, a station should be set up next to the entrance with masks and other infection protection products.
- Facial tissues that are present on side tables, coffee tables and/or the sign-in desk.
- Disinfectant wipes being used regularly by workers, or made available for visitors to use.
How can parents protect against germs when proper protocols are not met?
Don’t Go Toy Crazy
Germs can stay active on inanimate objects, such as those made of plastic. Picture your doctor’s office – how many plastic children’s toys are accessible? We can only hope that our healthcare providers are using disinfecting cleaners to kill any germs on those building blocks or that train set that seems to always be popular with every runny-nose child that stumbles in. However, instead of relying on hope, communicate with your healthcare provider; Ask for disinfecting wipes, or for hand gel to use after playtime.
Surfaces or Cesspools
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the flu virus can survive on surfaces for up to eight hours. Hard surfaces include those touch screen, sign-in computers at retail clinics as well as keyboards, televisions and remotes, pens, magazines and doorknobs; all of the surfaces you and your child could very easily touch in only the first few seconds of entering a facility. I always like to tell other parents to be their own advocate; take matters into your own hands by having a “protection kit” on you with hand gel, facial tissues and antiviral facemasks to help stay protected in public places.
Cover Because You Care
Now, more than ever, people need to break their typical cold and flu protection routine. One easy way to do this is by using an antiviral face mask. CURAD created the first mask of its kind that actually inactivates 99.99 percent of tested influenza viruses on 5 minutes contact with the surface of the facemask. Moms, this may be a stretch, but hear me out – masks may not be the most fashionable accessory, but they can certainly be a life saver.
The final piece of advice on how to stay happy and healthy this season is to laugh often. Laughing can boost your immune system, so make sure you and your loved ones get a good giggle in.
About The Author:
Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, is the Chief Nursing Officer at Medline Industries, Inc. As CNO, Martie develops forward-thinking, solution-driven clinical programs, as well as new products and educational services. Prior to joining Medline, Martie was the chief nursing officer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. Moore has nearly 30 years of clinical experience and extensive nurse leadership.