Hospital visitation restrictions begin this week as flu season intensifies

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INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 17, 2014) – The Marion County Public Health Department announced its first flu-related death and will mandate temporary visitation restrictions at Indianapolis-area hospitals starting this week.

On Friday, the state health department said 11 people across the state had died of influenza-related causes.

In response, the Marion County Public Health Department said all hospitals and health networks in the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety would implement Tier 1 of the Patient Visitation Policy, the least restrictive option that was developed in 2009 during the H1N1 outbreak. This is the third time for activating restrictions using this policy; Tier 1 was implemented Jan. 16- Feb.8, 2013, during last year’s flu season.

Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health began visitor restrictions on Monday, Jan. 20, as did Eskenazi Hospital. All other hospitals within IU Health, St. Vincent Health, Franciscan St. Francis Health, and Community Health Network, as well as the Roudebush V.A. Medical Center, will implement the policy beginning Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The Tier 1 option of the patient visitation policy has the following restrictions:

  • No visitors with influenza-like illnesses fever or cough.
  • No visitors under the age of 18 – unless special arrangements are made.
  • No visitors allowed beyond immediate family, partner or significant other.

Visitors should call the hospital before arriving if they have any questions about the restrictions. The restrictions will remain in place until they’re no longer needed. That decision will be based on regular assessments of Marion County flu data and the risk for potential exposure to patients.

For the week of Jan. 5-11, Marion County reports that 2.32 percent of all hospital emergency department visits countywide were for influenza-like illness (ILI). While this rate is lower than the 3.9 percent ILI reported during the same week last year, the recent increase in flu activity combined with the first flu-related death of the season is a cause for concern. Flu activity peaked at 5.09 percent of ILI in Marion County last season.

Currently, Indiana is in the “widespread” flu category as monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the Indiana State Department of Health for the week ending Jan. 11, the statewide ILI rate from hospital emergency departments was 3.39 percent.

Marion County health officials also recommended that residents get flu shots, saying it’s not too late to get one.

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