State health officials reported this week that the number of deaths in Indiana attributed to influenza is up to 40 this season. Of those 40 people who died, 38 had underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or renal disease.
The Hendricks County Health Department reported that less than five influenza-related deaths have occurred in the county. County health official Tammy Brinkman said her office is always trying to educate the public on how to stay healthy.
“We recommend anyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot, unless they have a severe allergy,” Brinkman said. “We also encourage hand washing and covering one’s mouth with a tissue or sleeve. And stay home if you are ill.”
Thirty-three of the victims statewide have been age 65 or older. Only two deaths occurred in people ages 18 or younger.
The hospitals in Hendricks County are doing their best to treat people while keeping the flu from spreading within their facilities.
IU Health West Hospital in Avon introduced a new visitation restriction policy on Jan. 18. The effort was designed to limit visitors to the hospital in order to enhance patient safety.
The policy states that only adults may visit patients, including parents, spouses/significant others, and spiritual counselors. Visitors with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills, or muscle aches, are not allowed.
Patients visiting the facility to be treated for flu-like symptoms are asked to wear a surgical or isolation mask. Visitors are asked to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer often.
IU Health West is also asking families to limit the number of relatives and friends accompanying patients into its emergency departments, outpatient surgery waiting rooms and procedure rooms, and primary care and specialist physician offices.
Chris Summers, public relations specialist for IU Health West, said the hospital keeps track of people coming into the facility presenting with flu-like symptoms and those actually being admitted to the hospital.