An increase in the number of influenza cases in the area has prompted Crawford Memorial Hospital to implement flu restrictions.
The guidelines are designed to help protect patients, staff and the community from the spread of the flu.
"We really want to thank the community for their cooperation," Chief Nursing Officer Tammy Fralicker said. "We know these restrictions are an inconvenience for our patients but they are vitally important for keeping our patients safe."
Effective immediately, visitors may not be admitted if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms. These include cough, sore throat, fever, chills, aches, runny or stuffy nose, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Also, only immediate members of the patients' family will be allowed to visit. This includes, spouses, parents or legal guardians, step-parents and siblings.
Children younger than age 16 are strongly advised not to visit and some patients may be asked to wear a mask inside the hospital if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Heightened restrictions may be put in place for obstetrics and the Magnolia Center.
CMH is not alone in posting restrictions. Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, has done the same.
Good Samaritan is asking the public not to visit the hospital or the inpatient units if they are showing any signs of illness. Not only is Influenza circulating but also a gastroenteritis (stomach flu) virus is circulating within our area and the most common way to acquire both of these viruses is contact with an infected person.
"Children under the age of 16 are asked not to visit but if they must, a mask will be available for them to wear,' said Good Sam Infection/Prevention nurse Robin McDonald. "Outpatients that are arriving for services that are experiencing influenza-like symptoms will be asked to wear a mask while in the physician offices, clinics, emergency room or the hospital."
Some area nursing care facilities are also asking the public to take care if planning to visit. Locally, cases are few and no facility is under quarentine.
"Our residents are healthy and we want to keep them that way," said Sarah Griesemer, administrator at Ridgeview Care Center, Oblong. As a result, employees there are asking would-be visitors to make sure they are symptom free before coming in. Masks are available for those who may have had symptoms recently.
Heritage Health Care in Robinson has seen a few residents come down with flu. Notices have been posted there asking visitors to wear masks.
Heritage Shelter Care in Hutsonville, meanwhile, reports no flu cases. No restrictions have been placed on its visitors.
Widespread influenza activity has been reported by 23 states. Flu activity in the area has gone from minimal local activity to widespread activity throughout the state in the last two weeks.
There are two influenza viruses circulating, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The A (H3N2) virus appears to be dominating with the B virus following close behind.
The A virus usually is more severe and has higher hospitalization and death rates associated with the virus.
Tips to avoid the flu include:
Avoid close contact with sick people.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, school or work.
Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
To get more information about the flu and how you can keep healthy, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.