DALTON – Local influenza (flu) cases have risen dramatically in the last few weeks, and for the safety of patients and visitors, Hamilton Medical Center (HMC) has established temporary visitor restrictions.
So far, HMC has treated 707 people with confirmed cases of flu. This time last year, there had only been 39 cases of flu at HMC. The flu season typically runs from Oct. 1 to March 31 and usually peaks in February. According to Perri Correll, Infection Prevention director, HMC started seeing a significant increase in flu cases the first week of December, one month earlier than last year.
Due to the widespread occurrence of flu in this area, HMC is asking for the assistance of community members in supporting a hospitalized loved one’s recovery by limiting visitation during this flu season.
The restrictions include:
• No visitors with influenza-like illness, fever, cough, or runny nose.
• Only essential visitors ages 18 or older (immediate family, partner or significant other).
• Patients experiencing flu-like symptoms will need to wear a mask.
“We know limiting visitations is a difficult thing to ask, but because we’re seeing so many flu cases in our area, it’s in the best interest of patients and visitors that we limit visitation during this type of flu season,” Correll said. “There’s simply too much risk of germ exposure at this point. We want to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typical flu symptoms include fever or feeling feverish and having chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness) and in some people, vomiting and diarrhea (though this is more common in children than adults).
“There are a number of ways to prevent the flu,” said Correll. “Though sometimes the flu shot doesn’t seem to be as effective as we’d like it to be, getting the flu shot is still a significant protection against the flu. Proper hand washing, especially after wiping runny noses, is also a key protection.” In addition, Correll mentioned drinking plenty of water, keeping your hands away from your face, staying away from crowds, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy as ways keep the flu away.
“It’s also important to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t pass it on to others. It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications,” said Correll.