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Preventing flu top priority for nursing homes

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
Because the elderly are at high risk of complications from colds, the flu and other respiratory infections, nursing homes have to take special care to protect their residents during the winter months.
December through February is the peak season for colds and flu, said Mark Manning, administrator for Westgate Village in Brewton.
Residents of Westgate Village are encouraged to have flu and pneumonia vaccines and practice proper hand washing to avoid the spread of germs, Manning said.
Century Care Center also relies on immunization and hand washing to keep residents illness-free.
Visitors to Century Care Center are not restricted, but if a visitor is sick, the nursing home strongly suggests that they not be in close contact with residents, Jackson said.
Century Care Center has had an increase in upper respiratory infections in the last two months, and Jackson expects another upswing in infections in January. Like the flu in this area, respiratory infections have hit earlier than usual this winter.
The best advice Jackson can give to visitors to help protect their loved ones from infection is to wash their hands and stay away from the nursing home if they are sick.
Evergreen Nursing Home administers the flu vaccination to residents and staff, said Teresa McInvale, director of nurses.
Evergreen Nursing Home has had no episodes of the flu this winter, McInvale said.