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 Szurkus, 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,” Szurkus 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