Nursing homes fight the flu

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As the flu epidemic sweeps the nation, many nursing homes are bracing for the worst.

"Handrails, doorknobs, the remote controls, those things that everyone's touching we try to keep those sanitized multiple, multiple times a day," Marianna Health & Rehab Administrator Melinda Gay said. "We are spraying a lot of Lysol in our building."

Marianna Health & Rehab has only had two cases of the flu this year. Staff members said they're taking symptoms very seriously.

"We notify their physician and we follow the orders, which typically are isolation and Tamiflu," Assistant Director of Nursing Cindy Mitchell said.

The CDC reports residents of long-term care facilities are at a high risk for developing flu-related complications.

"They have other health issues normally that are going on and it compromises their immune system," Mitchell said.

If you've been sick or have been exposed to someone who has been sick within the last 48 hours, medical experts ask you to please steer clear of nursing homes, hospitals, and other similar facilities.

"We know you want to visit your loved ones," Gay said. "Please call and check on them and we'll give you as much information on them as we can, but please stay home. It's not a good time to visit during the cold and flu season."

Marianna Health & Rehab staff encourage the elderly to get vaccinated.

The flu shot is offered free of charge at many nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Pregnant women, children, and adults ages 65 years and older are also at a high risk for developing complications from the flu.