Flu Cases Force Visiting Restrictions at Area Healthcare Facilities

Staff Writer

Widespread influenza is limiting visitors at area health facilities.

Mercer Health announced on Thursday that it’s issuing visitor restrictions as of Thursday, Jan. 4.

All visitors under the age of 14, except for siblings visiting the childbirth center, are not allowed.

Mercer Health is also asking patients in its outpatient clinics and doctor’s offices to limit the accompaniment of additional people during appointments.

"We are implementing these restrictions to protect our patients, especially those with compromised immune systems from further illness, protect visitors from exposure to influenza, and to help keep our staff healthy so we may continue to provide quality care for our patients,” a Mercer Health release stated.  “Our visiting restrictions will remain in place to protect our staff and community until the number of influenza cases in Mercer County and the surrounding areas decrease.”

Joint Township District Memorial Hospital officials announced it was implementing visitation restrictions beginning Jan. 4, in an effort to minimize the spread of respiratory infections to hospital patients, employees and the community.

“We respectfully ask the public to follow these new guidelines during flu season, which lasts through March, 2018,” said Kristi Koch, R.N., Infection Prevention Specialist. “The seasonal restrictions include not permitting children under the age of 14 in the hospital for visitation purposes or anyone who exhibits flu or cold symptoms."

The Ohio Department of Health said in a release that the start of this year's flu season is similar to 2014-2015.   Ohio is now reporting 2,104 flu-associated hospitalizations for the 2017-18 flu season, compared to 369 at this same time last year. Week 52 of 2017 had 925 new flu-associated hospitalizations which increased from 554 during Week 51. That is compared to 157 at this same time last year.

The Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu shot as soon as possible as vaccination is the best protection against seasonable flu viruses.