Dixie Regional Medical Center has modified its visitation policy in anticipation of a community-wide increase in influenza this fall.
The new hospital visitor policy:
“We are anticipating and preparing for a busy flu season with the emergence of H1N1 cases earlier this year,” said Dr. William Cobb, infectious disease specialist for Dixie Regional. “To keep the hospital as safe as possible for our patients during this season, we are currently asking that visitors be at least 15 years old, as children ages 14 and under frequently transmit viruses. Children and younger adults appear particularly vulnerable to the 2009 H1N1 virus.” On the 400 East Campus each patient will be also be asked to designate two healthy family members or friends to act as his or her “designated visitors.”
Healthcare professionals at the hospital have not seen a marked increase in flu cases yet, but believe it is wise to be proactive about potential spread of illness, rather than reactive. “We are hoping the community will be supportive as we balance the desire for visitors to see loved patients with patient safety concerns,” Dr. Cobb said. “We also want to increase community awareness that further visitation restrictions may be implemented this fall or winter, if we do see a significant increase in the number of patients being hospitalized with influenza.”
Dr. Cobb encourages people to follow public health prevention measures by getting a flu shot and an H1N1 vaccination (when it becomes available), washing hands frequently, coughing or sneezing into the shoulder rather than hands, and disposing of tissues properly. “Those who are ill should stay at home, as should well infants younger than one year,” he said. He stressed that “at home” means away from public places like school, movies, church, shopping and daycare.
- Ask for a mask if you have flu or cold symptoms.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue or your upper sleeve.
For more information about influenza or the most current updates on H1N1, visit the Southwest Utah Public Health Department website: www.swuhealth.org. For more information about visitation at Dixie Regional, please call 251.2108.