Protecting seniors as the flu continues to hit Michigan hard

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GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (2/1/2018) - More than 500 adults have been hospitalized with symptoms of the influenza virus since October, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Abbey Park in Grand Blanc Township is working to prevent their residents from becoming part of that statistic.

"When you see them ill, it breaks your heart," said Housekeeping Supervisor Nicole Johnson.

Abbey Park is home to 160 seniors. Johnson and her team interact with each one of them on a daily basis.

"If someone says they aren't feeling well, we are on it," she said. "Like, the housekeeper is reporting to me and I'm reporting it to my superiors and then we start monitoring. We tell the med team and then we start talking to them -- how you feeling?"

Then, Johnson's team also makes an extra effort to sanitize common areas, like the coffee shop, store, public restrooms and dining area.

"We're going through and spraying everything, everything that your hands will touch -- banisters, walls, door handles, everything," she said.

Administrator Kathy Felix said 2018 has been good so far, but they weren't so lucky around Christmas when about 15 residents got sick.

"Once we see about 10 percent of our population with flu-like symptoms, we make some changes," she said. "We shut down the dining room and we deliver boxes to the residents."

That month, they were forced to cancel activities and school choir visits, too.

"We really feel the need to keep those germs out. We do allow families to come and visit, we don't shut down the building, but we stop the public entertainment that we have," Felix said.

And, she added, those steps, plus encouraging residents to drink more water, makes a big difference.

"It always works the same. The numbers increase daily until we shut everything down and then they immediately start to decrease," Felix said.

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