NW Indiana Community Hospitals latest to set up visitor flu restrictions - December 31, 2019

Courtesy of The Post-Tribune

Written by Meredith Colias-Pete

Community Hospitals is the latest health care chain to announce flu restrictions for visitors, joining Franciscan Health and Porter Regional Hospital.

Children under 12, and anyone with flu-like symptoms are not allowed to visit patients, the rules state. No more than two visitors will be allowed at one time per patient at facilities including Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart and Community Stroke & Rehabilitation Center in Crown Point.

All “have seen a rise in the number of patients with the flu,” Marie Forszt, Marketing Vice President said in an email. “Our highest priority is the well-being of our patients, visitors and staff.”

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, body aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea, she said.

The flu is considered geographically “widespread” with seven deaths reported this season, according to the Indiana Department of Public Health.

At Porter Regional, only two visitors at a time are allowed per patient, visiting hours are strictly enforced and no one under 18 or showing flu-like symptoms are allowed visitation. All are asked to wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after visits, according to the hospital.

“If you need medical attention, are elderly, an infant, or have a compromised immune system, it is best to see a doctor within 48 hours of recognizing symptoms, so the right medication to shorten the length of the illness can be given,” hospital spokeswoman Kelly Credit said.

Urgent care clinics are available in Valparaiso, Chesterton, Hobart and Portage.

Franciscan Health has set up restrictions at facilities in Crown Point, Hammond, Dyer, Munster and Michigan City.

Only two visitors are allowed per visit and children under 16 are prohibited. Other visitors under 18 are allowed, if visiting their child in pediatrics; or obstetrics/postpartum in Michigan City, according to a release.

In Crown Point, Birth Place visitors will be held to two adults and siblings, while NICU visitors will be restricted to parents. Grandparents will be allowed with proof of vaccination for more than two weeks.

“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,” spokesman Robert Blaszkiewicz said.

Methodist Hospitals have not yet setup flu restrictions in Merrillville and Gary, spokeswoman Evelyn Morrison said.

“Our hospitals follow the CDC’s infection control guidelines,” she said. “Our efforts are focused on proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, flu vaccinations, and proper mask use. We’re in constant communication with federal, state, and local health officials, and are prepared to communicate up-to-date flu information to our patients and our community. If you have a fever, cough, headache or body aches please consider the safety of your loved ones and visit by phone.”