Edward's visitation guidelines adjusted due to H1N1 flu. Read more.
Edward bars young visitors, restricts others due to H1N1
October 27, 2009
By KATIE FOUTZ
Edward Hospital is restricting visitors to the hospital for the first time due to concerns about spreading the H1N1 virus.
All visitors under age 18 are prohibited, including those who want to visit a newborn sibling. Mary Anderson, Edward Hospital infection control manager, said the hospital is relying on the public to do the right thing to protect health care workers and the community.
"Edward has always had a very open visitation policy," she said. "We have not restricted numbers of visitors or ages of visitors or even times visitors can be here. This is a major departure from our normal procedures."
Edward Hospital put the following guidelines in place at all sites Monday:
--Visitors under age 18 will be prohibited from visiting the hospital, unless they have a medical issue.
--All others, regardless of age, are asked to refrain from visiting, if possible. You should not visit if you have any upper respiratory signs or symptoms.
--Patients and visitors with any upper respiratory signs and symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat or general fatigue will be asked to wear a mask from the time they arrive until they leave or are instructed otherwise.
Edward plans to inoculate its staff as soon as it receives a supply of the H1N1 vaccine. The above measures will remain in place until there are clear signs the present H1N1 wave of infections has subsided, according to the hospital.
Anderson said an infection control group that meets weekly decided the current outbreak made the new policy necessary.
"We're particularly concerned about limiting visitors who have signs of respiratory illness because there's so much influenza-like illness in our community right now," she said. "We're also limiting children because locally and nationally, they are the most likely to become infected."
While H1N1 vaccine is available to the public in limited quantities, people left out of the first groups to get it are getting worried.
For example, people age 65 and older are a high priority group to receive seasonal flu vaccine this year, just as they have been in prior years. But they are not among those recommended for early doses of the H1N1 vaccine.
Dave Hass, spokesman for the DuPage County Health Department, said there are two reasons for that: people age 65 and older are the least likely to get this virus, and the limited amounts of vaccine available at first are recommended for those who are most likely to get infected and become very ill.
One analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed H1N1 infection rates among younger people were 15 to 20 times higher than in seniors, Hass said. This has been true in the United States and in the Southern Hemisphere during its flu season. Laboratory tests on blood samples have shown older people likely have pre-existing immunity to the 2009 H1N1 virus, he said.
According to the CDC, the H1N1 vaccine should go first to pregnant women, people who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical personnel, anyone from 6 months through 24 years of age, and anyone from 25 through 64 years of age with certain chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system.
Hass said demand for the vaccine is outweighing the supply at this point but the CDC said there will be enough vaccine for every person wanting to become vaccinated. More vaccine is available each day.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services