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Tri-County Health Care restricts visitors

With the onset of the flu season, Tri-County Health Care is restricting hospital visitors to immediate family over the age of 18 and only if visitors are free from flu symptoms.

Effective immediately, Tri-County Health Care officials are restricting visitors as an appropriate response to the heightened influenza activity occurring locally.

"It is our responsibility to protect our patients and our communities," said John S. Pate, M.D., Chief Medical Officer.

Because influenza is an airborne virus that spreads by coughing and sneezing, it is important to limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

"We can all do our part in limiting the spread of influenza by covering our coughs correctly, staying home when sick and washing hands frequently," said Kathy Kleen, Tri-County Health Care Chief Nursing Officer. "It is important to know that adults are actively contagious one day before these symptoms are even noticeable and up to five days after they feel better."

Although flu symptoms are felt throughout the body, patients with this year's strain of flu are most often demonstrating symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills and fatigue. If anyone has any of the classic flu symptoms, health officials are asking them to stay home, treat their fever, drink plenty of water and get ample rest. However, if they have emergency warning signs, they are encouraged to seek help right away.

It is important that children and adults who have symptoms that continue to get worse, such as trouble breathing, bluish or gray skin color, severe or persistent vomiting, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness or confusion, become lethargic or have an inability to drink fluids get medical care immediately.

Tri-County Health Care officials are asking for full support of a change that restrict visitors who are 18 years or younger during the remaining influenza season.

"We ask that visitors who fall under this age category don't visit patients," said Kleen. "This includes siblings, friends or family members." The restriction applies to our lobbies, waiting areas and patient rooms.

"We recognize these actions may cause disruption to our families," said Kleen. "But, it is important to remember that our first priority is ensuring the safest possible environment for patients, staff and the public by minimizing the potential for exposure to the flu."

Tri-County Health Care officials support the Center for Disease Control's recommendations that if someone is sick with flu or respiratory symptoms they should stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the assistance of fever-reducing medications and their other symptoms are showing noticeable improvement. Tri-County Health Care staff is confident that people will realize that the small inconveniences they face from these preventative measures are far outweighed by the benefits they offer in preventing the spread of influenza to their friends, families and neighbors.