UPDATE: Local Hospitals Lift Visitor Age Restrictions

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- In light of the decreasing number of influenza cases in the Rock River Region, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, Rockford Health System, SwedishAmerican Health System, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, have lifted the visitor age restrictions at their facilities in cooperation with the Winnebago County Health Department.

The restrictions on visitors age 18 and under were put in place back in mid-January to limit the spread of influenza.

The health systems and the Health Department continue to monitor seasonal flu activity, and remind everyone to practice proper hygiene by covering coughs, cleaning hands often and staying home when sick.

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – The flu is spreading rapidly throughout the county to the point where local hospitals are now turning some visitors away in an attempt to curb the virus.
Hospitals in Rockford and Freeport are putting signs in their front lobbies, placing restrictions on visitors telling anyone 18 and under to simply stay home and don’t go visit family in the hospital. Doctors say younger people are more prone to spreading and catching the flu.

“I can present in so many ways that we don’t want to wait until it has completely peaked before we institute restrictions. We want to slow down the spread of the disease,” said Swedish American Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Born.

When you enter SwedishAmerican Hospital, you’ll see a sign telling folks 18 and under that they will not be allowed to visit patients. The Winnebago County Health Department says through the first week of the flu season, there were more than 170 cases of the flu in our country. The Freeport Health Network says they’ve seen more than 30 people come in with the flu. Doctors say those numbers will likely continue to grow which is why they’re encouraging us to use extra precaution.

“The biggest thing you can do is try to limit your exposure to the rest of the community so if you work in a school, in a daycare, if you work in a nursing home just try to stay home, take the time off and avoid going to those places because that’s how we’re going to contain this and make it now become a larger issue,” said Dr. Jason Layman an ER doctor with SwedishAmerican.

The county Health Department says the type of flu that’s spreading is the H1N1 strain, otherwise known as swine flu. They’re seeing more young people contracting the virus here locally, but that the virus poses a more serious risk to children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with long-term illnesses.

Doctors are saying we need to make sure we’re washing our hands and covering our mouths in order to prevent catching the flu.

Doctors also say it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- In light of the increased number of influenza cases in the Rock River Region, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, Rockford Health System and SwedishAmerican Health System, are restricting the age of visitors to their facilities per recommendations from Illinois Department of Public Health.

The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends hospitals implement all of the comprehensive influenza prevention and control recommendations from the Center’s of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during times of increased incidence of influenza –like illness in the community.

Effective Tuesday, January 14, 2014 and until further notice, hospital visitors will be limited to those individuals 18 years of age and older. In addition, it is strongly recommended that anyone showing flu-like symptoms please refrain from visiting patients in the hospital. All treatment services are still available to all patients.

The health department and the hospital systems remind everyone that if you haven’t had your flu shot, it’ not too late to get vaccinated, and to practice proper hygiene by covering coughs, cleaning hands often, and staying home when sick.

Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. Make decisions about when to seek medical care as you would under normal circumstances. It is not necessary to seek medical attention if you have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care.

Patients’ Recommendations:
Ask for a mask. Wear a mask if you have flu or cold symptoms, as a patient.
Wash your hands. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue or your upper sleeve.

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