DIXON – In an effort to stymie the spread of the flu – and at the suggestion of the state Department of Health – KSB Hospital will not allow visitors younger than 18 for the time being.
Because of the H1N1 strain of flu virus prevalent this year, that’s a particularly vulnerable population, health department spokeswoman Sue Hofer said.
“Also, a person of any age experiencing symptoms like cough, fever, sore throat, sneezing, or other flu-like symptoms should not visit,” KSB said on its website. “We believe these restrictions will help protect patients and employees.”
KSB has had a high number of patients with severe respiratory complications this year, and not a high number of people in the community getting flu shots, said Jennifer MacDonald, its infection preventionist.
In addition, there have been 50 pediatric flu-related deaths nationwide this week alone, she said.
“Kids are carriers. ... We feel a strong sense of responsibility to protect that population,” she said.
CGH Medical Center in Sterling considered imposing the younger-than-18 restriction, but after looking at its confirmed cases of the flu and determining the numbers are the same as usual for this time of year, decided against it,
“We have looked at our recent positive influenza tests, and out of nearly 200 tests, 8 percent were positive for Influenza A and 0 tests were positive for Influenza B,” CGH Marketing and Media Manager Rebecca Green said in an email.
“We have communicated with our infection control department, and we don’t feel there is a need to limit visitors to the hospital at this time other than to encourage common sense.
“We have signage in various locations regarding ‘cover your cough’ and stations throughout the hospital and Main Clinic with masks, Kleenex and hand sanitizer. Obviously, we will keep an eye on things and can change/adapt if need be,” Green wrote.
CGH spokeswoman Dana McCoy put it more succinctly: “We are asking people to be cautious and aware, and to use common sense. Don’t visit if you’re sick.”
It’s also not too late to get a flu shot; check with your local health department, hospital or physician for availability and cost.