Assisted living facilities take precautions as N.C. flu deaths pass 200

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – State Health officials say the death toll from the flu in North Carolina now stands at 200. The total brings itches closer to the record of 218 deaths reported twice in the last three years.

26 of the flu victims who died were 65 and older and five of those deaths were between 50 and 64. The medical staff and residents at the Spring Arbor Living Facility tell me taking the necessary steps is a must.

It’s a sickness Carolyn Massey is familiar with. The flu is nothing new for Massey. In college, she came down with the viral infection and for her, the pain is hard to forget.

“It was more like a big heavy cold,” said Massey. “It’s getting worse and it’s very dangerous.”

The days of a big heavy cold are over according to medical experts. The flu season is now being considered an epidemic.

The medical staff at Spring Arbor make sure residents have enough hand sanitizer and disinfecting spray to prevent residents from catching the flu.

More specifically, Carol Hanley, the Resident Care Director at Spring Arbor. She says the preventive measures needed a slight upgrade.

“We always have a flu clinic at the beginning of the flu season every year,” said Hanley. “We do patient teaching with hand washing, good infection control measures, a lot of tissue, hand sanitizer and making sure patients keep things out of their pockets.”

Hanley said staying safe isn’t easy and teamwork is always required.

“It’s a very coordinated effort even with our headquarters, we have the regional nurse that we work with as well as in-house,” said Hanley. “We work with the department of health in the community.”

Other residents like Rebecca Colclough also have a few tips for everyone.

“They should wash their clothes,” said Colclough. “If you can’t do nothing else, spray them.”

Even Massey agrees a few preventive measures are crucial.

“You’re more vulnerable the older you get and that’s why I get the flu vaccine every fall,” said Massey.” You also must stay away from other people who have it, if you can.”

While the flu season isn’t over yet, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel for the first time this year. The centers for disease control says flu activity has dropped. The number of doctor visits for flu symptoms fell to about 1-out-of-16.

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