Hospital tightening up visitor policies due to fluVisitors with flu-like symptoms are being asked to stay away from Fairview Red Wing Medical Center unless they’re coming in to see a doctor or get treatment.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Visitors with flu-like symptoms are being asked to stay away from Fairview Red Wing Medical Center unless they’re coming in to see a doctor or get treatment.
From now until the flu season ends, new visitor limitation policies are in effect in the hospital portion of the medical center in an effort to prevent the proliferation of the H1N1 flu virus.
An announcement was made Friday in conjunction with other health care providers in the Twin Cities area, including Fairview Health Services, Allina Hospitals and Clinics and Hennepin County Medical Center.
“It’s a proactive measure,” said Patrick Dwelle, R.N., director of in-patient services at Fairview Red Wing.
“The basic message is, ‘If you have flu-like symptoms, don’t go to the hospital,” said Marcy Dowse, spokeswoman for the local hospital.
Since many patients already are medically fragile, the hospital wants to avoid exposing them to H1N1 or seasonal flu.
In addition to protecting patients from exposure, Dowse said, the new policy also should help keep staff members safe so they can continue to treat the patients, plus it will keep visitors safe from exposure as well.
“Fairview asks that you do not visit the hospital if you may have the flu or if you have close contact with someone who is sick ... to avoid infecting others,” according to a press release.
In addition, hospital officials said:
• Do not visit if you are sick or someone in your household is sick.
• A patient’s children, brothers and sisters may visit if they are at least 5 years old.
• Other visitors must be at least 16 years old.
• Patients may have up to four visitors at a time.
• Visitors must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer often.
• All visitors under age 14 will be screened before visiting. They are asked to stop at the nurses’ station, where they will be checked for symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and other respiratory complications.
The limitations are a practical means of protecting patients, visitors and staff, Dowse said.
“I think patients have been very understanding of the
new requirements,” Dwelle agreed. “They’re already ill. They don’t need any other complications.”
The immediate reaction from families and staff also has been “very positive,” he said.
All patients with influenza-like illnesses are being treated as if they have H1N1 flu, Dwelle said, pointing out that it takes time to get test results that pinpoint the type of flu a person has. Anyone with those symptoms is being placed in an isolation room at the hospital.
“We are treating patients with flu-like symptoms throughout the facility,” Dowse acknowledged. That includes people who come to the clinic or Urgent Care for doctor’s appointments or treatment, as well as people who are hospitalized at the facility.
The limitations on visitors likely will be in place for months, since the flu season typically continues until March. This year, Dwelle pointed out, H1N1 appeared in the spring, appeared to go dormant then resurfaced.
People should not panic, Dowse stressed. “This is just a safety measure we’re taking, like washing your hands, covering your cough or staying home when you’re sick.”