The 2009–2010 flu season pulled no punches both locally and around the world, and NorthBay Healthcare’s medical professionals have had to stay on their toes to keep the community healthy.
It started in October, when the first waves of seasonal flu vaccine arrived, and NorthBay’s teams began drive-through vaccination clinics and a walk-in clinic at its Center for Primary Care facilities in Vacaville and Fairfield.
Then in November, the Novel H1N1 vaccine started to trickle in— much slower than originally promised—and NorthBay had to make difficult decisions about distributing vaccine.
The first priority—as recommended by the World Health Organization—was to vaccinate healthcare workers, so they in turn could care for the sick. Then, attention was turned to the high-risk patients at NorthBay’s Centers for Primary Care.
In all, nine drive-through H1N1 vaccine clinics were held for the general public at NorthBay’s three Center for Primary Care facilities in Fairfield and Vacaville. In late October, NorthBay Healthcare made the decision to restrict young visitors from patient areas at NorthBay Medical Center and VacaValley Hospital.
The decision, according to Dr. Donald Denmark, vice president of Medical Affairs, “was to put the safety of the patients first, and the safety of those who will be visiting a facility that has a growing number of patients with the flu.”
Dr. Denmark was featured in a NorthBay Healthcare video that was posted on NorthBay.org, Youtube, our Intranet, and on several media outlet Web sites announcing the decision.
The policy will remain in effect throughout flu season, and will be reviewed next spring to determine if it should be continued.
NorthBay’s policy acknowledges that there may be cases with extenuating circumstances, and staff will work with families to coordinate special visits with children under 16, if deemed appropriate.
Other hospitals across the country have implemented similar visitation restrictions, but NorthBay Healthcare is the first in Solano County to do so. Daman Mott, director of infection control and clinical support services, has continued to maintain a high profile during flu season, writing a “Flu Facts” blog with frequent updates and answering questions from a concerned public.
He also taped interviews and public health messages with KUIC morning show host John Young.
By the end of 2009, NorthBay staff had vaccinated nearly 6,000 residents to defend against the H1N1 influenza.