FastMed Reports Increases in Flu Cases Widespread in North Carolina
Clayton, NC – January 28, 2014 – To help combat a statewide outbreak of the flu, FastMed Urgent Care, the largest urgent care organization in North Carolina, issued the FastMed Workplace Flu Survival Guide for employers and employees to reduce the rate of flu cases. FastMed calls it a health and economic imperative, as each year the flu can cost the U.S. economy up to $87 billion in lost work time and productivity.
“At FastMed clinics throughout North Carolina, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of flu cases,” said Jason A. Williams MPAS, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Eastern Region and Founder of FastMed. “Because the workplace is such a highly contagious environment for spreading the flu, we are focusing on employers and employees and supporting them with The FastMed Workplace Flu Survival Guide to help lower the spread of flu.”
Williams also explained that flu season typically peaks during January and February but can last as late as May, so employers will need to manage their flu prevention programs for months.
The FastMed Workplace Flu Survival Guide is based on federal government guidance and FastMed’s own extensive experience providing frontline health care to patients in communities and workplaces throughout Arizona. The guide includes the following tips:
- Know the Symptoms in Your Employees: Know what you are looking for as a manager or as an employee. Symptoms often include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Promote Employee Vaccinations: The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine as the best way to protect the workforce against flu viruses. It requires about 10 days to take effect, but since flu season can last into May, it’s not too late to encourage your workforce to get vaccinated.
- Invest in a Flu-Free Environment: Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and disposable towels for employees to clean their work surfaces.
- Stop the Spread of Germs: Hold staff meetings to discuss the best ways to avoid spreading the flu and put posters in break rooms that ask employees to cough or sneeze into their elbow, wash hands often with soap and water, use hand sanitizer, keep desks, office equipment and other work surfaces such as phones and computer equipment clean, avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth and stay away from anyone who is sick.
- Develop Sick-Day Policies to Promote Health: As a manager, encourage sick employees to get tested, treated and develop HR policies that make it alright for sick employees to stay home (without fear of reprisal) until at least 24 hours after a fever is gone.
- Urge Rapid Testing: If you suspect the flu, take a quick moment to get a noninvasive (no needle needed) rapid nasal swab flu test. The results take just 15 minutes to process and if positive it gives you the chance to get treatment right on the spot.
- Encourage the Right Treatment: If an employee is already sick, there are treatments and medications to lessen the severity of the flu, which reduces the spread of flu germs to family, friends and coworkers. Also, require them to stay home because you won’t be doing your workplace any favors by pushing sick employees to stay at work, where they will contaminate other employees and decrease productivity.
- Foster Healthy Workforce Lifestyles: Creating an environment and culture of good health for employees all year round can go a long way toward combatting a flu outbreak. Good nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation programs are proven winners and can help avoid or at least lessen the impact of illness.
- Don’t Share and Don’t Crowd: If there’s an outbreak of flu in your workforce, you need to encourage them to NOT share phones, computers, food and beverage, etc., and you should seriously consider not holding crowded meetings in small rooms as an infected person is a threat within six feet of healthy workers.
FastMed provides occupational health programs to employers throughout the state, which includes general employee population health services such as flu vaccines and advice to maintain a healthy workforce. FastMed is also issuing a flu health alert directly to its occupational health employer clients, which includes the Flu Survival Guide.
About FastMed Urgent Care:
FastMed Urgent Care is a North Carolina-based owner and operator of urgent care facilities with locations throughout North Carolina and Arizona. FastMed focuses on the delivery of non-appointment based medicine to the non-emergency patient market. The urgent care centers are open 365 days a year and are staffed with experienced and licensed physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. For more information, please visit www.fastmed.com. FastMed is managed by an affiliated entity of one of the investment funds of the Comvest Group.
About the Comvest Group:
The Comvest Group, with $1.2 billion of assets under management, provides flexible financing solutions to lower middle-market companies through its equity and debt funds, often meeting time-critical and complex funding requirements. The firm includes seasoned, senior level operating executives who partner with managers and owners of companies to operationally improve businesses and create long-term value. Since 2000, Comvest has invested more than $1.5 billion of capital in over 105 public and private companies. For more information, please visit www.comvest.com.
Reuel Heyden | Sr. Dir. of Marketing & Community Relations
FastMed Urgent Care
Source: “Annual economic impacts of seasonal influenza on US counties: Spatial heterogeneity and patterns”; International Journal of Health Geographics 2012