GREAT NECK, NY – North Shore-LIJ Health System medical professionals and staff members are taking the lead to help prevent the spread of influenza this year and increase patient safety by receiving their flu shots or, as ordered by the state for unvaccinated employees, wearing surgical masks while in areas where patients may be present.
David Battinelli, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, and Maria Castaneda, secretary-treasurer of healthcare employees union 1199 SEIU, received their flu shots yesterday at North Shore-LIJ’s corporate headquarters.
“Physicians and other health professionals have a leadership role regarding patient safety,” Dr. Battinelli said. “They are demonstrating by receiving their flu shots that this is a beneficial thing for our patients to do as well. People unfortunately don’t realize how debilitating the flu can be until they get it.”
A combination of flu and pneumonia was the eighth biggest cause of death in the country in 2011, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report. The New York State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that anyone six months or older get a flu shot.
“Medical professionals are educated healthcare consumers and the North Shore-LIJ Health System facilities and 1199SEIU have been teaching their employees, which include 1199SEIU union members, about the facts related to flu shots and debunking the myths,” Ms. Castaneda said. “The health system’s employees should take advantage of what their institution is providing them by way of flu education.”
New York State Department of Health has ordered that when flu season is declared prevalent, all healthcare workers have to either have had a flu shot or wear a mask when they are in areas where patients may be present.
“It is important for us to enforce this in our hospitals,” said Lorraine Chambers Lewis, the health system’s assistant vice president for employee health services. “It will help to create a safe environment for our patients.”
Healthcare workers wearing masks is no cause for alarm, she said.
“They are not sick, this is just a precaution to help decrease the spread of the disease.”
The North Shore-LIJ Health System has been out in front of the state mandate, beginning last year with its “Set the Example” campaign, which included requiring some medical professionals to wear masks. The North Shore-LIJ Health System has flu shots available for patients as well as staff members.