Drugs to fight swine flu in lim­ited sup­ply Hos­pi­tals tem­po­rar­ily close doors to vis­i­tors un­der 18 years of age

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - Provincial - BYWAYNE THI­BODEAU

Pow­er­ful an­tivi­ral drugs that help lessen the symp­toms of the swine flu are be­ing shipped to only a lim­ited num­ber of drug stores across Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Tam­i­flu and Re­lenza are no magic cures, but they have been proven to help peo­ple from get­ting sicker.

The prov­ince has stock­piled mil­lions of doses of th­ese an­tivi­ral drugs as part of its Pan­demic In­fluenza Con­tin­gency Plan. They have been dis­trib­uted to 18 phar­ma­cies as well as all Is­land hos­pi­tals.

Chief Health Of­fi­cer Dr. Heather Mor­ri­son says the prov­ince lim­ited the roll out of the an­tivi­ral drugs in an ef­fort to keep sick peo­ple away from large crowds, es­pe­cially those that would be en­coun­tered in depart­ment stores.

Mor­ri­son said the prov­ince is only lim­it­ing the an­tivi­rals from their only stock­pile.

She said pri­vate phar­ma­cies may still get those drugs shipped from sup­pli­ers in­de­pen­dently.

“ The de­ci­sion to put them in cer­tain phar­ma­cies was try­ing to make sure there was enough avail­able in phar­ma­cies in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across Prince Ed­ward Is­land,” Mor­ri­son added.

Phar­ma­cies across the Is­land now have the drugs and doc­tors have been told which phar­ma­cies those are.

Pa­tients need a pre­scrip­tion to re­ceive it.

That ap­pears to be hap­pen­ing in record num­bers.

Phar­ma­cies say the two an­tivi­ral drugs are be­ing pre­scribed in large num­bers this week.

An­tivi­ral med­i­ca­tions are not rec­om­mended for mild ill­ness in oth­er­wise healthy in­di­vid­u­als. Ef­fec­tive to­day, no vis­i­tors un­der 18 years of age will be al­lowed in the prov­ince’s two ma­jor hos­pi­tals be­cause of con­cerns over the H1N1 virus.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hospi­tal and Prince County Hospi­tal ad­vised the pub­lic Fri­day of changes to vis­i­tor guide­lines that come into ef­fect to­day at both fa­cil­i­ties.

“Our pa­tients are our top pri­or­ity and th­ese tem­po­rary changes to vis­i­tor guide­lines are re­flec­tive of the im­pacts of the H1N1 in­fluenza in the com­mu­nity,” said Rick Adams, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hospi­tal in Char­lot­te­town.

“ We need to en­sure that we take the ap­pro­pri­ate pre­cau­tion­ary steps to pro­tect our pa­tients, staff, physi­cians and vol­un­teers from the H1N1 virus while they are at the hospi­tal.”

Tem­po­rary changes to vis­i­tor guide­lines in­clude:

n No vis­i­tors un­der the age of 18 years.

n No more than two des­ig­nated vis­i­tors per pa­tient may visit dur­ing that pa­tient’s stay in hospi­tal.

Pa­tients will be asked to iden­tify two per­sons to des­ig­nate as vis­i­tors dur­ing their stay in hospi- tal.

Re­duc­ing hospi­tal vis­its will re­duce the risk of in­fluenza-like ill­ness com­ing into the fa­cil­i­ties. Des­ig­nated vis­i­tors who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­fluenza-like ill­ness — cough with or without fever, ac­com­pa­nied by ei­ther a sore throat, sore mus­cles, achy joints or ex­treme fa­tigue — are asked to re­frain from vis­it­ing pa­tients at the hospi­tal un­til they are symp­tom-free.

Com­pas­sion­ate ex­cep­tions will be made to the tem­po­rary vis­i­tor guide­lines on an in­di­vid­ual pa­tient ba­sis and will be done in con­sul­ta­tion with the pa­tient and their health-care team.


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