What AHS is doing to Reduce the Spread of the Flu
Seasonal flu circulates each year in Texas, typically during October through May. Periodically, a new flu virus emerges that has not infected people before and for which there is no vaccine. In 2009, a novel H1N1 influenza began circulating throughout Mexico and spread to the United States and other parts of the world. Both novel H1N1 and seasonal influenza can cause significant illness in persons at high risk for complications and also in individuals who are healthy and not in high risk categories.
Guidance regarding H1N1 and other seasonal forms of influenza may change as the situation changes; therefore it is important that people stay informed. AHS works hard to keep all staff, residents and families up to date on these issues as they are addressed for those it supports and employs. At a local level we work with County Public Health Officials and on a Statewide basis we are actively in communication with the State of Texas DSHS. Further, our Medical consultant and our Quality Director stay in contact with colleagues throughout the country in an effort to ensure that AHS is providing the most up to date approach to preventing the spread of the flu.
Some of the specific steps AHS is taking are:
• Routine seasonal flu vaccination is provided for all employees, volunteers, and residents. AHS is also making seasonal flu vaccine available (at no cost) to all children of staff that have no other means of obtaining this.
•The most current flu vaccination is provided for all high-risk residents and staff. Almost 2000 doses of this vaccine were ordered in 2010.
• Employees who become sick while at work should avoid contact with others and be sent home. AHS has made arrangements with local Occupational Clinics to evaluate staff whose illness might have been caused through an exposure at work and AHS will cover the expense of required antiviral agents if they are prescribed.
• Employees who develop Flu-like symptoms are encouraged to not report to work and should stay home and/or seek appropriate medical care. We are frequently reviewing signs and symptoms of the flu with our staff so they remain aware of when they (or a household member) might be contagious.
• Infection Control measures are being applied to all visitors and family members. We know this might create some inconveniences, but we ask that if you have any signs or symptoms of a viral illness (cough, fever, intestinal symptoms, congestion) that you delay your visit. If you have any questions, call the AHS location you were planning to visit and discuss the situation before you visit.
• If an outbreak of flu-like illness is suspected in a facility, AHS works closely with their local physicians, the local health department and the appropriate state or oversight agency. We have found that our local doctors and health offices are very helpful in providing us with information and direction during such times.
• We encourage all residents and employees to wash their hands with soap and water frequently. We have dispersed alcohol-based hand throughout our programs and have made these sanitizers available to staff if they need them at home. All visitors that come to a facility to are also encouraged to either wash their hands with soap and water frequently or liberally use alcohol-based hand sanitizers located throughout our locations.
• Finally, AHS has acquired sufficient supplies of gloves and masks to allow for proper prevention of the spread of the flu if an outbreak occurs. We also are following the State’s guidelines in terms of decreasing cross-contamination by asking our ill consumers to remain in one area and avoid contact with others who are not ill. This is not meant to restrict a person's activities as much as prevent the spread of this serious virus.
If you have any questions about how AHS is dealing with this matter, please contact one of our local Administrators or the AHS Central Office at
9050 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Bldg 3, Suite 130
Austin, Texas 78759