Flu Outbreak Prompts Hospital Visitation Restrictions
Marion County hospitals clamp down in an effort to stop the bug
Hospitals in Marion County are trying to stop the spread of the flu by cutting down on the number of visitors to patients.
Health Department director Dr. Virginia Caine says the temporary hospital visitation policy will take effect this Friday, as the number of patients visiting emergency rooms for flu-like symptoms has almost doubled over the past week.
Almost four-percent of total emergency room visits are now for the flu, and while that is high, Dr. Caine points out that it is still below the ten-percent level reached during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
Dr. Caine says all hospitals and health networks that participate in the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety have agreed to implement the least restrictive option of the 2009 Patient Visitation Tier 1 Policy. This includes Marion County hospitals within IU Health, St. Vincent Health, Franciscan St. Francis Health, and Community Health Network, as well as Wishard Hospital and the Roudebush V.A. Medical Center.
The tier 1 option of the patient visitation policy has the following restrictions:
- No visitors with influenza-like illnesses, fever or cough.
- No visitors under the age of 18 - unless special arrangements are made.
- No visitors allowed beyond immediate family, partner or significant other.
Dr. Caine says it is only the second time for activating these restrictions, and it is the first time that hospitals have implemented the policy at the same time as a group.
The Marion County Health Department will also hold a free flu shot clinic on Friday from 1-5 p.m. at the health department’s training center, located at 4012 N. Rural Street. Flu shots will also be administered for free on that day only at all of the health department’s district health offices. Children age 18 and under must be with a parent or guardian to receive a shot.
For a list of locations, call the Flu Hotline at 221-2121, or visit MCHD.com.