Sunday, April 14, 2024

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
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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