Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Masking requirements lifted at Hampton Roads health care facilities

HAMPTON ROADS — Nearly four months after issuing masking requirements for patients and visitors entering area hospitals and other health care facilities to limit the spread of influenza, area health systems have finally lifted those requirements.

The masking requirements were implemented on Dec. 21, when influenza case numbers peaked for the 2017-2018 influenza season.

According to a news release from Sentara Healthcare, reported case numbers for influenza have dropped for two consecutive weeks in the Hampton Roads area.

In early February the Virginia Department of Health reported there were “spot shortages” of anti-viral medications used to treat the flu, as well as shortages of some kits used to test for influenza, including the Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests.

Dr. Dennis Szrukus, executive medical director of Infection Prevention for Sentara Healthcare, said the area influenza situation in 2017-2018 reached widespread levels earlier in the season than last year. Likewise, he said the seasonal flu vaccine was, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36-percent effective.

Regardless, the vaccine remains the best way to prevent the flu.

“Many who received the vaccine (still) benefited from a decreased severity of illness with the flu,” Szrukus said.

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
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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