Great River Medical Center restricts visitors as local influenza cases increase
Great River Medical Center is limiting visitors because of the high incidence of influenza in the community and in the hospital. People with colds, coughs and other flu-like symptoms should not visit patients in the hospital.
Influenza is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. It is highly contagious and is easily transmitted through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person during coughing and sneezing. Typical symptoms include headache, fever, chills, cough or sore throat and body aches.
“It’s important that people understand why we limit visitors,” said Infection Control Coordinator Mary Moore. “People who have the flu are contagious 24 to 48 hours before they feel symptoms. This means that seemingly well visitors could pass the flu on to critically ill patients. Limiting visitors reduces this possibility.”
Visiting restrictions are the greatest in the Women and Family Center’s obstetrics and pediatrics units.
Newborns have limited immunity, and changes in the bodies of pregnant women can make them more susceptible to severe illness from the flu for up to two weeks after delivery. Obstetrics Unit visitors are limited to parents, grandparents, significant others and siblings who have no flu-like symptoms. Siblings must be free from symptoms for 48 hours before visiting.
“We understand this is a very special time in the lives of our mothers and families,” said Desiree Martin, director of Women and Family Services. “But it is in the best interest of our littlest patients and their mothers to restrict visitors.”
Only parents and grandparents may visit in the Pediatrics Unit.
Visitors in other inpatient units must be at least 14 years old, and only two visitors may be in the room. Emergency Department patients may have only one visitor at a time.
Moore said it’s important to follow infection-control guidelines when visiting patients who are in isolation rooms because of their contagious illnesses.
“Visitors should wear gloves and gowns while in these rooms, and they should wash their hands thoroughly when they leave,” she said. “Wearing protective clothing prevents visitors from carrying the illness out of the room on their clothing or hands.”