01/11/18 — Hospital enacts visitation restrictions amid rise in flu cases

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Hospital enacts visitation restrictions amid rise in flu cases

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 11, 2018 12:26 PM

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Officials urge people to take preventative measures against influenza.

Due to the increase of viral influenza cases in North Carolina, Wayne UNC Health Care announced that effective today, visiting restrictions are in place.

Children under 12 may not visit inpatient areas or waiting rooms at the hospital.

Others are also cautioned against visiting if they have a fever or flu-like symptoms, which include cough, runny nose, nasal drainage and sore throat.

In a story which ran in the News-Argus on Thursday, the hospital was reported to have no visitation restrictions in place relating to the flu.

The decision to impose the restrictions was announced internally to hospital staff late Wednesday afternoon, officials said. It was based upon reports received from the state about the influenza situation.

So far this flu season, there have been 20 deaths in the state attributed to the flu, said Angie Hill, manager of infection control at Wayne Memorial. The hospital is also seeing a spike in the numbers.

"What happened was, in December, we had 33 positive flu cases, inpatient and outpatient," she said. "In January, just in the first week, we had 38 flu positives and we have probably 10 to 15 (cases) right now."

The hospital has had very few patients hospitalized with the flu, Hill said. Most of those being seen are treated in the emergency department and then discharged.

But certainly the surge in flu activity warranted a response.

"Basically, we tripled our numbers from December to January with the flu positives, and that December total is the whole month," she explained.

The main priority for the hospital is patients, which branches out to include their families, Hill said.

Children are considered at highest risk for having the flu, prompting the decision to implement the restrictions for both children and the general public.

Officials expressed appreciation to area residents coming to the hospital, for patience and understanding as the restrictions are imposed, as a safety precaution that will benefit the public at large.

"We're only trying to protect our community, our children, protect everybody else," Hill said.

"Our mission is patients first, quality health care close to home," said Brittani Schultze-Gardner, coordinator, digital and community relations for the hospital. "Yes, it might be a little inconvenient.

"Your child could be carrying the flu symptoms before you know it. But in addition, children who get the flu have a harder time getting over it. We're just trying to help."

Along with the announcement, the Infection Control team released several tips on flu prevention, with vaccination still the most effective protection available.

"The best way to prevent the transmission of germs and diseases is to wash your hands," Hill said.

Other recommendations include covering your mouth for cough and sneeze, cough or sneeze into tissues and discard them properly; if you are sick, stay home; and if you do become sick, speak with a physician about antiviral medications.