Assisted Living Communities Battle The Flu Bug

Avera and Sanford Health Put The Elderly As One Of Their "At-Risk" Populations

For the Primrose Retirement Community in Sioux Falls, this isn’t the most relaxing time of year.

The flu is making its rounds across the country and confirmed cases in South Dakota have spiked over the last couple weeks.

Despite the jump, however, Director of Nursing Dianne Larson said it doesn’t come as a surprise.

“We’ve been taking precautions for quite a few weeks now,” said Larson.

She also said in the case that a resident tests positive for influenza, lockdown goes into effect.

“Once the physician tells us the time frame that they have to be quarantined in their room, we leave them in their room for that time. After that, they can come out unless they’re still coughing a lot. Then, we leave them in their rooms,” said Larson.

While they are kept inside their rooms, Larson said they accommodate all of their residents needs to prevent any chance of the virus spreading on the premises.

“We will deliver all three meals to them. It’s like, no, you’re sick, you cannot take care of yourself as well and they probably won’t eat or drink like they should. That’s why we get involved with them, too, and let us take of you,” said Larson.

Larson also said when a resident has a confirmed case, the campus gets cleansed.

They wash down all their tables, handrails, elevator button and other items residents could put their hands on.

Their numerous precautions aren’t meant protect from a common cold.

Virginia Lemme, a Physician Assistant with Avera Health, said potentially fatal results can come from the flu.

“We see a lot more of our older people hospitalized with influenza, maybe not because of influenza itself but because of what it causes, like pneumonia,” said Lemme.

Larson said the evasive actions aren’t strictly for residents.

She said the Primrose staff tries to avoid being the bearer of the bug.

“I preach, preach, preach please be careful because if we catch it, it’s probably not as bad as one of them catching it,” said Larson.

To protect their residents, Larson said anyone who catches the flu is recommended to stay away.

Lemme said that should also includes family members.

“Even if they want to see their loved one, it’s probably best to forgo that visit and get better first before you visit them,” said Lemme.

Lemme also said anyone interested in getting a flu vaccine can still get one.

If a vaccine isn’t the preferred choice, Lemme recommends measures such as covering coughs, washing hands and staying hydrated.

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