Visitors to Missoula Community Medical Center will encounter special precautions to prevent the spread of the flu virus.

Infection Control Coordinator Pamela Whitney said everyone who comes in the hospital will encounter a 'flu station'.

"The flu stations are at every entrance to the hospital, and they all contain alcohol hand sanitizers, a mask and Kleenex," Whitney said. "On that flu station, you'll see a sign that reads 'cover your cough', and so we're just encouraging people who come in with flu-like symptoms, because our staff is just so in-tune with flu, that we've been able to achieve a 98 percent vaccination rate. We're counting on our staff to talk to people who look sick when they come in."

Whitney said patients who come to the hospital with signs of flu they are placed in isolation for droplet precautions.

"What that means is that when the healthcare provider comes in, they're putting on a gown, they're doing really good hand hygiene and they're putting on a surgical mask, because the flu is spread by coughing via the droplet route," she said. "The patient stays in isolation until 24 hours after their symptoms stop, or seven days after the start of their symptoms, whichever comes first."

Whitney said all visitors will pass through the flu station when they walk in the front entrance of the hospital.

Hundreds of cases of the flu have been diagnosed in Montana this season, and healthcare officials encourage everyone to get a flu shot.

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