As the number of flu cases continues to rise in Kent and Sussex Counties, Bayhealth Medical Center is taking necessary steps to protect patients and their guests. On Wednesday, December 31 Bayhealth Kent General and Bayhealth Milford Memorial established a temporary visitor policy restricting children under the age of 12 from visiting patients in the hospital.
“Children and infants may have emergent warning signs and quickly become ill, more so than adults,” stated Barb Robbins, BSN, RN, CIC, Bayhealth Infection Prevention. “Children also may have difficulty covering coughs and sneezes and adhering to good hand hygiene practices. The recommendation was made to limit the spread of the influenza virus.”
In addition, anyone age 12 and older who is not seeking medical treatment, and has any flu symptoms, including fever/chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, and/or vomiting, is asked to refrain from visiting hospital patients.
“The incidence of Influenza has become widespread in our community based on information from Public Health and the numbers of patients being seen in our facilities,” said Robbins. “Based on this information Bayhealth is taking steps to reduce the exposure of influenza in our facilities by limiting visitors. Visitors who have been in contact with ill patients can be a possible source of influenza to other patients, visitors and staff.”
Individuals that have flu-related symptoms, and are seeking medical treatment at Bayhealth are asked to stop by the respiratory etiquette stations. The stations are located at each entryway and include hand sanitizer, face masks, and tissues. Using hand sanitizer or washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is the single best way to prevent the spread of germs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most healthy adults may be able to infect others with the flu virus one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer. Flu can spread to others by droplets made when people with the virus cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths and noses of people who are up to six feet away.
“Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications, including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions,” stated Robbins. “If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.”
Officials at Bayhealth stated that they “appreciate the public’s understanding and cooperation” of this temporary visitor policy. Bayhealth will lift the temporary ban when a reduction in influenza numbers demonstrate that it is safe for patients and visitors.