Each year, the dropping temperatures herald the arrival of winter and the seasonal illnesses it brings to the Actionmarguerite residences. These include the influenza virus, which can strike as early as September.
For Philibert Ruberandinda, Assistant Director of Care at Actionmarguerite, preparation is key. “We know that outbreaks can always occur from the fall months until early spring. So we prepare by educating the staff, residents and families on how to prevent the kind of flu we are dealing with, and the additional precautions to be taken.”
Actionmarguerite also prepares vaccination campaigns. The residents’ families sign a consent form, and we do blood tests to determine the appropriate dose for each individual. We also encourage staff to get vaccinated.”
Flu prevention involves a great deal of logistical coordination. “We must purchase enough gloves, masks and gowns in advance so that we are ready when the outbreak strikes. This protective equipment is essential to wear when the outbreak occurs.” Actionmarguerite also insists on handwashing which is one of the most fundamental precautions. Even audits are regularly organized during an outbreak or not.
As soon as one flu case arises in the facility, additional measures are taken. “Elderly persons are fragile therefore we must take action right away,” explains Anna Lebrun, Manager, Resident Services.
Firstly, the resident diagnosed with the flu is “segregated”. “If we see a symptomatic resident, we ask them to stay in their room,” says Philibert Ruberandinda. “We post a note on their door to notify staff, who must wear special protective equipment. We then collect and send specimens to the provincial laboratory and notify the doctor and the family.”
Generally speaking, if more than two residents are affected by the flu in a given week, the unit is closed and an outbreak is declared. “No group activities are held, no one may leave the floor, and we limit the number of visitors who must also follow flu prevention measures. In collaboration with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and after our medical doctor has determined an outbreak, we begin distributing Tamiflu to control symptoms and prevent them from worsening.”
The quarantine is only lifted from the unit three days after the last resident infected with the flu is symptom-free.
For more information, you may consult the following brochure: dépliant family information handout.