Director of Communications
Release Date: IMMEDIATE
February 28, 2017
HOSPITALS ALERT COMMUNITY OF VISITATION RESTRICTIONS
Greater Cincinnati hospitals implement restrictions to limit spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses this season
CINCINNATI –With the start of a new flu season, local hospitals are beginning to see a significant increase in the number of respiratory illnesses, including flu, throughout the region.
Many hospitals in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana are currently implementing limited visitation policies to minimize the spread of respiratory diseases to hospital patients.
For the hospitals that are limiting visitors, most are initiating the following restrictions:
- No visitation by anyone who is ill with any respiratory symptoms including coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever, etc.
- Discourage visitors under the age of 14
Hospitals’ decisions about visiting restrictions vary with the types of patients they serve and the specific services provided. For example, hospitals serving special patient populations such as obstetrics, pediatric, burn, transplant, or ICU patients may institute more restrictive visitation policies. Also, hospitals that provide obstetrical services may make exceptions to the restrictions for a newborn’s siblings who have received their flu vaccination at least 14 days prior to visiting. Hospitals will consider other exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
In addition to visitation restrictions, area hospitals have made other efforts both independently and collaboratively to protect their patients as much as possible from being exposed to respiratory illnesses including flu. Vaccination of health care workers is a primary strategy being used by hospitals in the region to ensure that health care workers and others who interact with patients have received vaccines and won’t inadvertently spread to their patients.
Hospitals have also put “respiratory etiquette” practices in place. Alcohol hand gel, tissues, and face-masks are available to patients and visitors throughout the hospitals, particularly in emergency departments and waiting rooms, and in some cases a separate area has been established in waiting rooms for individuals with any respiratory illness symptoms.
“Please help to prevent the spread of germs that may make others sick,” said Tonda Francis, VP, Regional Coordination and Clinical Initiatives at The Health Collaborative. “If you have a cold, cough, the flu, or other respiratory illness, don’t visit patients in hospitals or other health care facilities. In fact, the best precaution is to stay home. If you must go out, remember to cover your cough and wash your hands frequently.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. It also recommends careful hand-washing, coughing and sneezing into a sleeve or a tissue, and staying home from work or school when you are sick.
“It is not too late to get a flu shot. Even though flu season is ramping up, there is time to get protected as flu kicks into high gear,” said Francis, adding that there is no anticipated shortage of the vaccine this year.
For more information on flu prevention, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm. For the most up-to-date information on flu shot availability locally, contact your physician, pharmacist, or local health department.
Most area hospitals will discontinue visiting restrictions on or about March 30, 2017, unless respiratory illness is still highly prevalent in the Tristate at that time.
About the Health Collaborative:
The Health Collaborative is a non-profit organization that strives to positively impact health status, experience, outcomes, and affordability by fostering a connected system of healthcare and community health through innovation, integration, and informatics in the greater Cincinnati region. For more information about the Health Collaborative, visit www.healthcollab.org.