Hospitals asking are you healthy?

October 21, 2009 9:01:23 PM PDT
Some hospitals have put new policies in place for dealing with the swine flu, like not allowing visitors under 18. Now, many state operated health care facilities are about to go one step further and have people sign off that their healthy before entering.

The policy will involve about 14 state run facilities mental health hospitals, like Dorothea Dix, and alcohol and drug treatment centers.

In all the facilities, there are about 3,400 patients and around 1,200 employees across North Carolina.

Starting Friday, hopefully they'll all be protected from a swine flu outbreak, by the strokes of many pens.

"We can have signs up that simply say, if you have fever, or runny nose, don't go in," said Luckey Welsh with Healthcare Facilities Division. "That's sort of a passive screening, but when you have to actually write down, I don't have it, check off the block and sign your name, it makes you really think."

Officials are calling it active screening. All visitors will be confronted with a simple questionnaire when they get to the entrance. If they answer yes to having any of the conditions, there's a good chance they'll be told to walk back out the door.

"We think the time for this H1N1 to start spreading is going to pick up, so we're trying to just get ahead of the curve a little bit," Welsh said.

Welsh says already this fal, five of the 14 facilities across North Carolina have seen at least one confirmed case of a patient with swine flu.

He says unlike acute-care hospitals, his facilities have fewer patients who stay more or less in their rooms and more opportunities for patients to co-mingle and spread germs.

"We can perhaps stop the H1N1 at the door," Welsh said.

Officials concede that in signing that you are not sick is more or less an honor system. You're not going to get in trouble per say if you lie.

They're certainly hoping the mere fact you have to stop, think about it and contemplate the risk you're creating for others will induce people to make the right call.

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