Marion Co. hospitals to lift visitor restrictions as flu activity decreases

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Marion County hospitals will lift visitor restrictions that were implemented in January due to widespread flu activity.

The Marion County Public Health Department announced Wednesday that regular hospital visitation policies would resume on Friday, Feb. 8.  The announcement comes as health officials said flu activity has decreased.

The restrictions were implemented on Jan. 18 after flu activity reached its highest levels since 2009.

“Over the past two weeks, flu activity in Marion County has leveled off and then dropped significantly,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, who recommended the policies be put in place.  “Even though hospital visitor restrictions will be lifted, it is important to remember that flu season does not end until April 1. Everyone must continue to protect themselves and others against the flu, such as good hand washing and covering a cough. Also, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.”

From Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, health officials reported Marion Co. hospitals reported 401 ER visits for influenza-like illnesses.  The previous week, hospitals reported 490 emergency visits.

“The implementation of the county-wide visitor restriction policy over the past three weeks has been a perfect example of hospitals coming together to improve outcomes for patients,” said Dr. Charles Miramonti, chairman, Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety. “The success of this joint effort, along with the mandatory flu vaccines that several hospital systems enacted this past fall, has helped to prevent the spread of the flu from reaching a critical point.”

As of Monday, a total of 44 people in Indiana have died due to flu-related illnesses.

Health officials said a majority of the deceased individuals had underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and renal disease.  A large majority of the deaths were people older than 65 years old.

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