Flu limits hospital visits

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 05:12 PM

To contend with one of the worst flu seasons in recent years, High Point Regional Health System is restricting visitation.
The health system is restricting visitation for people under 18 years old to prevent the spread of the influenza virus.
“This decision is based on recommendations from the health system’s infection control committee to combat the spread of influenza among patients,” said Dr. Dale Williams, chief medical officer at High Point Regional. “Our decision is similar to other hospitals across the nation to restrict children from visiting the hospital while flu is prevalent in our community.”
Cherrie Speagle, infection control manager of High Point Regional, said the restriction is put in place to protect the hospital’s patients from the influenza virus that has been spreading rapidly through the area.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of positive flu cases with patients and our staff, and we are just trying to protect our patients,” Speagle said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of doctor visits for flu-like illnesses reached the national baseline in mid-November. This is the earliest in the regular season that influenza activity has reached the national baseline level since the 2003-04 season.
Speagle said the restriction is for those under 18 because they may have weaker immune systems and come into contact with more people.
“They are the people in schools and in close contact,” she said. “They have a bigger opportunity (to infect one another) because they are more closely grouped and because of their close proximity and the number of people they come in contact with.”
Speagle said the hospital has seen patients who said they had the flu vaccine and they still get the flu, but that doesn’t mean the vaccine is ineffective.
“The vaccine is effective, so if you have not gotten it, go ahead and get it,” she said. “It offers some protection, and symptoms are going to be a lot less than if you don’t get the vaccine.”
jhowse@hpe.com | 888-3617