Northern Light EMMC screening visitors for flu symptoms

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center put its flu prevention procedures in place Monday morning.

The Bangor hospital began the temporary measures last year after a record number of flu hospitalizations and deaths in our state.

Joy Hollowell tells us what that means for visitors as well as patients.
"Really, the heart of flu season usually hits us in the middle of February," says Dr. James Jarvis, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center's senior vice president and senior physician executive. "So this is about that time."

For the second year in a row, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is temporarily ramping up its visitor policy in an effort to prevent the spread of the flu.

"Last year we instituted the policy because we did see a greater increase in the number of cases of influenza, but more importantly, deaths and hospitalizations were much higher than we had seen before," explains Dr. Jarvis. "That started us to put in triggers so that we can be proactive."

So far, this year's flu season is appearing to be milder. Still, the latest numbers from the Maine CDC show 8 deaths and 32 hospitalizations to date.

"Our numbers are still elevated more than what we are normally, typically seeing in Maine," says Dr. Jarvis. "And the flu can always be a dangerous thing."

All visitors to EMMC must be at least 12 years old and each patient is limited to two.

"We ask all visitors and patients to enter through the main entrance, and as they get into the lobby, we will ask you some screening questions to see if you have any influenza like symptoms," explains Dr. Jarvis. "And if so, we may ask you to stay home, we may ask you to remain in our lobby or wear a mask if you absolutely need to be within the medical center."

The flu season can extend into June.
Here is a link to the Maine CDC's weekly influenza report