At the recommendation of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers is implementing temporary visitor restrictions at the hospital effective immediately. The recommendation is in response to state influenza activity level, which is currently listed as “widespread.”
Under the temporary restrictions, no visitors will be permitted under the age of 18, and no more than two visitors will be permitted per patient at any one time. Additionally, those who are ill or exhibiting cold or flu symptoms are asked not to visit hospitalized patients. Visitors with respiratory symptoms may be asked to leave.
“The restrictions are intended to protect our patients and staff and to prevent and control the spread of illness within the community,” explains Kerry Gerding, RN, Infection Preventionist at Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers. “We ask that visitors be limited to those who are essential for the well-being of the patient. Anyone who is sick is strongly encouraged to stay home and refrain from visiting patients in the hospital.”
Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Those at high risk for developing flu-related complications include children younger than 5 (especially those younger than 2), adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
For those who do visit the hospital, Gerding recommends washing hands often, especially when entering and exiting a patient’s room. Additionally, if there is an empty bed in the patient room, visitors should not sit on or set their belongings on the bed, which has been cleaned and prepared for the next patient.
Gerding also says patients with flu-like symptoms who present to the Morris Hospital emergency department, immediate care centers or physician offices are asked to wear face masks to prevent the spread of germs in public areas.
“We have Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette stations at each entrance that contain face masks, facial tissues and hand sanitizer and are intended for use by anyone who is coughing or sneezing,” says Gerding. “No one should be offended if we ask them to wear a mask. This is how we all work together as a community to keep each other safe and prevent the spread of infection.”
As always, Gerding says hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of infection, as the influenza virus can live for up to 24 hours on hard surfaces.
“Washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer are both effective ways to kill most germs,” she says.
The visitor restrictions are expected to remain in place at Morris Hospital until the state influenza activity level falls to the “sporadic” activity level or below. Last flu season, Morris Hospital had visitor restrictions in place from Feb. 6 through April 15.