Formal connections with hospitals and long term care facilities include membership on infection control committees and outbreak management teams.
When there are diseases in the community, some of the sick will become so unwell that they need to go to the hospital. Hospitals and long-term care facilities face a huge challenge with containing very contagious diseases like influenza when patients, family and other visitors enter the facilities carrying influenza and other viruses.
By getting all recommended immunizations (including flu) and washing hands or using hand sanitizer when entering hospitals and long term care and during your visit as requested by staff, you are directly helping to lower risk to patients and residents.
Sometimes viruses or bacteria spreads within hospitals and long term care facilities, and when that happens it is called an outbreak. Public health uses the term "outbreak" to access faster laboratory services and other important resources . Symptomatic patients or residents can be diagnosed and have access to effective treatment, and the facility knows what tools and measures will help best to bring the disease spread under control.
The facility will implement some additional measures to prevent added risk to patients or residents; actions should suit the specific situation.
The public can help by following all of the additional measures the facility asks, and encouraging others to do the same. Remember that the staff needs to protect the patients or residents and may need to add rules or extra steps during the outbreak. If all visitors follow the rules, the outbreak will likely end more quickly.
If you have any questions or concerns about infection control, please contact a public health inspector.