To combat flu, hospitals adopt guidelines for visitors

Starting on Dec. 11, following a declaration by the New York State Commissioner of Health that the flu is now prevalent in certain communities, several regional hospitals have adopted guidelines for visitors.

These include Albany Medical Center; Columbia Memorial Health; Saratoga Hospital; Ellis Medicine, including Ellis Hospital and Bellevue Woman’s Center; St. Peter’s Health Partners acute care hospitals including Albany Memorial Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, St. Peter’s Hospital and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital; St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam; and Nathan Littauer Hospital.

The restrictions include:

— A maximum of two visitors will be permitted in a patient’s room at any one time;

— Children 12 and under will be prohibited from visiting patients’ rooms, as they are more likely to have and transmit respiratory infections; and

— Visitors with rash, diarrhea, or respiratory symptoms will be prohibited from visiting patients. These symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath;

The hospitals also are urging all visitors to use hand-washing stations before entering and upon leaving a patient’s room. Hand sanitizers are available at many hospital entrances and at many other locations throughout these hospitals, including the doorways of many patient rooms.

Some hospitals have special-care units or physical layouts that may have additional visiting restrictions or modifications. People wishing to visit specialty care units or birthing centers are encouraged to call their local hospital to clarify policies.

Hospital officials advised that it is still important to get the flu vaccine, as it offers the best protection against other circulating strains and will reduce the likelihood of severe illness.

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