Reporting Robbie Owens
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The flu outbreak that’s sickened thousands of North Texans is an even greater threat to the very young and the elderly– and that’s forcing operators of area senior living centers to take special precautions.
“It’s a grave concern,” says Kathy Barone, Executive Director of the Emeritus at Eden Estates senior community in Bedford.
At Eden Estates, lunch is no longer served in the lavish dining room. It’s delivered to resident’s rooms in disposable containers because of the flu emergency. Gathering areas like the coffee shop and community rooms–typically full of residents–are quiet and empty since they’ve been asked to stay in their apartments.
“The elderly are so susceptible to any kind of illness, and flu can be really hard on them.”
Barone says they’ve had 51 confirmed flu cases since January 4th– that’s more than a third of the residents.
In response, staffers at the facility are now continuously disinfecting surfaces, sanitizing their hands and wearing masks when caring for those infected to keep the virus from spreading.
91-year-old Christine Huggins is the community’s cookie-baking social butterfly– but, even she’s keeping to herself, she’s worried about getting the flu.
“I really am, ” says Huggins, “It’s bad here.”
At Windsor Senior Living in Dallas, most residents have so far kept the flu bug at bay. Staffers there say they’ve had less than a handful of cases and credit good preparation with keeping the virus from spreading.
“Residents got their flu shots and we stress good hand washing,” says Clinical Director Carmelita Dolores. When residents complain of flu like symptoms– coughing, aching and fever–they are quickly isolated.
“We bring them the care, we bring them the food, we hydrate them, we call the physician, we make sure they’re watched frequently.”
And while no one enjoys being cooped up, it beats having an all-out battle with the flu.
“They’ve been really good about it…staying in their apartments,” says Barone, at Eden Estates. “They’re probably getting a little cabin fever, ready to come out and start taking part in more activities. But, they understand, they understand.”
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