As the reports of influenza grip central Indiana, many local hospitals have implemented visitor restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.
The restrictions come after the Indiana Health Department announced that 11 people had died as a result of influenza this season, with one death being in Marion County. Only a week ago, the reported number of deaths was three.
The Indiana University Health Hospital System is taking precautions at its Indianapolis hospitals of IU Health North, IU Health West, IU Health Methodist Hospital, IU Health Saxony, IU Health University Hospital, IU Health Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center, and Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
At IU Heath West, the visitor restrictions mean:
• No visitors under the age of 18 may visit patients (unless special arrangements have been made);
• Immediate family members, including parents, spouses/significant others, and spiritual counselors may visit hospitalized patients;
• Individuals with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, chills or muscle aches should stay home, and not visit patients in the hospital; Sometimes, symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea occur in children. Symptoms usually start about one to four days after being exposed, and last two to seven days;
• Patients coming to see their doctor, or for outpatient testing, who have flu-like symptoms, should request a protective mask to wear; and
• Visitors and outpatients should wash hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the building.
The temporary policy is effective Jan. 22.
Officials want to remind the public that the best way to combat the flu is to get a vaccine.
“We strongly recommend that everyone ages 6 months and older get their annual flu vaccine,” Jane Forni, manager of infection prevention at Indiana University Health West Hospital, said. “Physician offices and pharmacies began providing flu shots in September. Since it takes about two weeks for your body to build up its immune response to the flu, the sooner you get your flu shot the better. But it’s not too late.”