Due to a steady increase in influenza and influenza-like illness in Emergency
Departments, Urgent Care centers and physician offices in our region,
Valley Health System’s six hospitals are temporarily altering visiting
policies beginning Monday, January 9, to limit the risk of exposure to
patients, as well as other visitors and staff.
Effective Monday morning, visiting hours will be limited to four hours
a day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visitors must be age18
or older and no more than two people may visit at the same time. Visitors
who have not received the flu vaccine are being asked to wear a mask during
their visit. Those with any symptoms of flu-like illness – cough
or fever – are urged to stay home.
Facilities affected by the change include Winchester Medical Center, Winchester
Rehabilitation Center, Warren Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital
and Page Memorial Hospital in Virginia, and Hampshire Memorial Hospital
and War Memorial Hospital in West Virginia. Visiting restrictions will
remain in place until the flu season concludes.
“We have been closely monitoring Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
and Valley Health data on the incidence of flu and flu-like illness and
believe we need to do everything we can to protect our patients from exposure,”
said Nicolas Restrepo, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs at Winchester
Medical Center. “We always discourage anyone with cold or flu-like
symptoms from making hospital visits, but because individuals with flu
can be contagious before they have symptoms, we ask the community to work
with us to limit the chance of exposure.”
A spouse, significant other, parent or adult child designated to be involved
24/7 in a patient’s care is exempted from visiting limitations.
Other exceptions include patient visitation immediately after surgery,
at the end of life, and in other situations determined by nursing leadership
on a case by case basis. Hand sanitizer and masks are available for visitor
use at each hospital.
Family and friends visiting patients at Winchester Medical Center will
be required to wear a Visitor ID badge, available at the Visitor Information
desk inside the main entrance to the South Tower. Visitors for patients
in the North Tower (ICU, Labor and Delivery, NICU and Observation unit)
are asked to sign in and receive a badge inside the main South Tower entrance.
“While we appreciate the benefit a personal visit from family or
friends can provide, we encourage the use of other communication –
cards, phone calls, email, FaceTime or Skype – to brighten the day
of a hospitalized patient,” Restrepo added.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness which causes mild to severe
illness, sometimes death, among older people, young children, and those
with certain health conditions.
The CDC recommends if you get sick with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough,
sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue,
and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea), you should stay home and avoid contact
with others except to get medical care. Most people with the flu have
mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs.
Valley Health officials also stress the importance of anyone who is experiencing
respiratory symptoms to be vigilant about “respiratory etiquette”
to prevent the spread of illness. This includes covering mouth and nose
with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; disposing of the tissue after
use; and washing hands with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based
hand rub, or antiseptic hand wash after contact with respiratory secretions
or contaminated materials. Hand washing is especially important since
the flu virus can survive 2-8 hours on surfaces.
It is also not too late to get a flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine
protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will
be most common.