Don’t panic, do be proactive with H1N1

Health officials predict the resurgence of H1N1 as summer changes to fall and kids are back in school. And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, we are bombarded with new and sometimes changing information. We are very fortunate to have ready access to the latest facts and statistics from around the world. However, it’s important that those resources don’t cause unnecessary alarm or even panic.

Is H1N1 serious? Of course. Should we exercise caution? Absolutely. Can you help protect yourself and your children from the flu and help limit its spread? The answer is a resounding “yes.”

During this time of concern, continue to take the same precautionary steps you use to avoid any other type of virus. Clean your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly. Practice good respiratory hygiene. Cough into your sleeve or cough into a tissue and discard it immediately. Maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and anyone who exhibits flu symptoms. Flu symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, cough or fever greater than 100 degrees.

Please be assured that we have sound, effective plans in place here at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to ensure that our patients, their families and our own employees receive the best possible care. We will continue to screen all visitors who wish to enter our hospitals and clinics. Those who report having two or more flu symptoms will not be allowed to enter. The same restrictions apply to staff.

All parents and guardians – regardless of symptoms – may visit their child in the hospital but they will be expected to wear masks if they are indeed experiencing respiratory symptoms. If you plan to visit our hospital or clinics in the coming months, please be sure to check the new Flu Updates section on the home page of our Web site (www.chw.org) for current visitor guidelines, as they may change to protect our patients. Changes could include restricting siblings and adult visitors.

Should you or your loved ones experience flu symptoms, please contact your primary care physician by phone. He or she will advise you on next steps. Do not come to the hospital, clinic or any type of medical office unless instructed to do so by your physician.

By adhering to these suggestions, you’ll help all of us stay healthy.

For more information on swine flu identification, treatment and prevention, visit www.flu.gov or www.pandemic.wisconsin.gov.

–Michael Gutzeit, MD, chief medical officer, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

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