Health Care

Hospitals unite to stop spread of flu

January 14, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming is a 208 bed general acute care teaching hospital that serves more than 130,000 patients. Photo via fb.com

All three of the Grand Rapids area acute care hospital systems — Metro Health, Saint Mary’s and Spectrum — announced Monday they have agreed to limit their patient visitor traffic, starting immediately, in an effort to impede the spread of the flu.

The flu sweeping across America can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly, so, “for the safety of patients and staff,” the three health care systems “will limit visitation to its hospitals,” and they are also asking patients “to limit the number of people who accompany them to office and clinic visits,” according to an announcement from Spectrum on behalf of all three hospitals,

Anyone who may be ill should not plan to be a visititor at the hospitals.

“All visitors are expected to be healthy, and the hospitals are taking active steps to protect patients, staff and visitors,” the announcement states.

A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms.

  • Fever greater than 100.4 degrees F
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rash or draining sores

"Only healthy visitors may visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient clinics, (and) only two visitors or family members are allowed per patient at a time,” the announcement states. “These conditions apply to visitors at all Grand Rapids hospitals and are effective until further notice. These measures are designed to protect vulnerable patients, as well as staff members.”

The joint announcement states that most flu symptoms can and should be treated at home, and only the most severe cases require a visit to an urgent care location or emergency department.

Michigan health officials say the flu season is worse than previous years but has not reached an emergency level, according to the Associated Press. Four Michigan children have died from flu-related illness.

Twenty-seven adult flu deaths have been reported in Illinois, but the situation there appears to be easing up. Fifteen deaths were reported in Indiana, but in the flu outbreak there one year ago, there were 21 deaths reported by this time.

The governor of New York over the weekend declared a flu emergency, which allows pharmacists there to vaccinate anyone 6 months or older, instead of only people 18 or older.

Massachusetts has reported 18 deaths, and the city of Boston declared a public health emergency last Wednesday.

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