BEND, Ore. - St. Charles Health System said Tuesday it is restricting visitations to its four hospitals and requiring the use of hand sanitizer at entrances to protect vulnerable patients and caregivers from the flu.
Starting Wednesday, the following temporary changes in policy are in effect:
- No visitors under the age of 17 will be allowed in St. Charles' intensive care units or the neonatal intensive care unit in Bend.
- In all other areas of the hospitals, no visitors under the age of 12 will be permitted.
- All visitors and caregivers are required to use hand sanitizer provided at kiosks located near hospital entrances. Masks are also available and should be worn by those experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Between Jan. 11-13 alone, St. Charles labs conducted 57 tests, with 22 returning positive for influenza.
These numbers indicate that flu season has officially arrived in Central Oregon, just as it has throughout the nation.
So far, Oregon public health officials are reporting a moderate flu season for the state, but St. Charles leaders are planning ahead in case the number of patients with the flu rises dramatically or the caregiver population is hit with the illness.
The health system has launched an influenza incident command that is monitoring the number of flu cases, the amount of available vaccine and flu test kits.
Public health departments are underscoring the importance of receiving the flu vaccine, which this year is about a 90 percent match with the most common strains that are being diagnosed.
The flu vaccine supply in Central Oregon is limited and regional staff is coordinating with pharmacies and health providers to ensure its availability.
Due to the current high demand of flu vaccine, the Deschutes County Health Services Department says it will offer a walk-in flu vaccine clinic this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for all ages (including adults) at the Deschutes County Health Services Department building, 2577 NE Courtney Dr. in Bend.
Flu vaccine will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, while supplies last. A limited amount of flu mist will also be available for children two years of age and older.
The cost of each vaccine will be $15.19 at the time of service. We are unable to accept private insurance at this clinic.
For more information about this flu clinic, please call the Deschutes County Health Services Department at (541) 322-7400.
The Deschutes County Health Services Department and Mosaic Medical also re working together to vaccinate people who still need their flu shot. Here is another flu clinic opportunity:
Mosaic Medical Bend will be offering a walk-in clinic on Saturday, Jan. 19, from 8:00 a.m. to 12 Noon for anyone 4 years of age and older. It is not necessary to be a patient of Mosaic Medical to take advantage of this clinic. Flu vaccines will be available on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last.
All Insurance will be accepted and billed. Cash, debit or credit card payment will be $30 for patients over 18 with no insurance, and $15 for all patients under 18 with no insurance – a sliding scale for Mosaic patients will be applied.
Mosaic Medical- Bend Clinic
409 NE Greenwood Ave.
For more information about this Mosaic Medical flu clinic, please call (541) 383-3005.
State health officials say the vaccine became available in late August and demand for it had pretty much died down before a wave of national stories about the hard-hitting flu season.
Despite spot shortages, Oregon immunization program manager Lorraine Duncan says the vaccine is available and those who are persistent can get it. She urged residents to get a shot, noting that the state's flu season typically peaks in February and the vaccine needs a couple weeks to take effect.
To find out where to get a flu shot, call SafeNet at 2-1-1 or visit flu.oregon.gov and enter your zip code in the flu vaccine finder.