For the 1st time in 9 years Washington hospital screens visitors for flu

For the first time in nine years, Kirkland, Wash.-based EvergreenHealth will begin screening all visitors upon entry Feb. 13 for flu-like symptoms — a move hospital officials hope will curb the spread of the flu, according to Q13 Fox.

The screenings will only take place at the entrance to the hospital, not any of the specialty clinics on the campus.

Nurses will ask each visitor basic questions, such as if they have had a cough, fever or runny nose, to determine if hospital visitors show any signs of flu. If they show any signs, they will not be granted access.

"If they are felt to be ill, they will be asked to seek care, if they are screened and deemed OK, they will be getting a badge with a little sticker and then they will gain access to the unit," Francis Riedo, MD, a physician at EvergreenHealth, told Q13 Fox.

All adults will be screened and no children under the age of 16 are allowed to visit. Additionally, visitors will be re-screened daily as each day of the week will have a different color sticker marking if they passed the screening.

EvergreenHealth implemented this extra precaution as the flu outbreak continues to worsen in the U.S. Hospital officials said it is to protect patients and prevent the spread of the flu.

"I describe [the flu outbreak] as a mile wide and an inch deep. We've had widespread influenza in the U.S. for five consecutive weeks, I have not seen this," said Dr. Riedo, according to the report.

EvergreenHealth expects to screen visitors for several weeks until the number of flu cases decline.

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