Many of you know residents and may have heard about their experience with modified operations during the flu season earlier this year. During flu closures, a few questions arise about the process that leads to a flu closure, how Horizon House finds out about flu cases, and if those who have the flu received the flu shot.
Currently, every Resident who has a confirmed case of the flu so far, did receive a flu shot. Vaccination doesn’t prevent one from getting the flu but does make the symptoms less severe if contracted.
How Horizon House Finds Out About Flu Cases
For Independent Living, we rely on Residents to inform the Clinic if they are feeling symptomatic for flu or have seen their doctor and tested positive for the flu. Hospitals and/or doctors do not contact Horizon House unless a Resident directs them to do so. If the Clinic has awareness that a resident is in the hospital, the Clinic will follow up as per protocol unless the resident has explicitly stated that the Clinic is not to be involved.
The Closure Process
The flu is classified as a ‘communicable disease’ and is very contagious. This is especially difficult to contain in community-based setting like Horizon House. When flu cases have been confirmed and shared with the Horizon House Clinic, I contact a specialist at the King County Department of Public Health.
Who Makes the Decision
The King County Department of Public Health is firm in their recommendations: cancel all group activities, close the dining room, limit non-essential visitors, exclude ill visitors, limit staff movement, and educate staff on the facility’s illness policy. These rules apply when we have either one confirmed case of the flu or a minimum of two suspected cases of the flu. The Department of Public Health knows many of these can be hard on facilities (especially excluding visitors and canceling activities/dining) but they are the easiest way to stop the spread of flu.