Franciscan Health implements flu restrictions at its hospitals

A rise in influenza cases locally has prompted new visitor restrictions at Franciscan Health hospitals in Northwest Indiana.

To prevent the spread of the flu, visitor restrictions have been implemented at Franciscan Health Crown Point, Hammond, Dyer,Munster and Michigan City.

Visitor restrictions include:• No more than two visitors at a time• No children under the age of 16• Exceptions for parents under age 18 visiting their child on Pediatrics, fathers or significant other under age 18 visiting OB and siblings visiting in postpartum (Michigan City)• Visitors to the Birth Place will be limited to two adults and siblings(Crown Point)• Visitors to the NICU will be limited to parents. Grandparents may visit if they have proof of vaccination more than two weeks ago (Crown Point)

In addition, other precautions are being taken by staff at the hospitals. Any employee unable to receive the influenza vaccine must use a mask. Patients with a cough or other respiratory symptoms must be masked on admission, or when leaving their room. Magazines are removed from waiting rooms because of the potential for those items to transmit infections.

While these restrictions may be an inconvenience, they are necessary to ensure patient safety. Though the common cold and the flu can often look alike, symptoms like fever, headache, body aches, weakness, fatigue and extreme exhaustion are more common indicators of the flu. Also, with the flu, symptoms tend to be worse, come on suddenly and can last as long as two weeks.

Individuals can prevent spread of the flu by avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick and keeping themselves and their surroundings as germ-free as possible. Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes and disinfect any surfaces that could become contaminated.

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