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Hospital asks people who feel ill not to visit patients


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GREENFIELD — With influenza season in full swing, Hancock Regional Hospital officials are asking visitors to think twice about visiting patients if they are experiencing flulike symptoms.

\“We’re asking through signage that visitors consider not visiting the hospital if they’re experiencing symptoms such as fever, coughing, body aches and things of that nature,” said Rob Matt, hospital spokesman.

However, the hospital is so far not restricting or placing a moratorium on visitation, as some hospitals across the state have done.

If visitation is necessary even though the symptoms are present, the hospital is asking visitors to wear masks to help keep them from spreading viruses to patients. Masks will be provided in the reception area inside the main entrance to anyone who requests one, Matt said.

As of Tuesday, 191 flu cases had been documented in Hancock County since the second week of September, according to county health department records; however, more cases probably have occurred, as not all county health care providers have been reporting, said Beth Burkhardt, county public health nurse.

Flu cases spiked here between Dec. 18 and Dec. 24, records show, with 54 documented cases.

Following the national trend as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overwhelming majority of the reported cases in Hancock County have been of the Influenza A strain, with only 31 instances of Influenza B being recorded.

To date, children ages 5 to 11 appear to be hardest hit by the flu, according to county records.

Twenty-six flu cases have been reported among those over 55.

Of the 362 patients who were swabbed to test for the flu virus, a little more than half came back positive, records show, tracking state and national trends.

Matt said Hancock Regional adheres to advisories and mandates from the state and local health departments on such matters.

Ken Severson, Indiana State Department of Health spokesman, said the state has issued no specific visitation requirements or regulations to Indiana hospitals, leaving the issue to local discretion.

Hospital officials will continue to monitor this year’s flu season, and should changes to the visitation policy be required, the public will be notified immediately, Matt said.

According to the state health department, there had been 27 reported influenza deaths in Indiana as of Wednesday; however, of those, 20 of the individuals who died had underlying medical conditions such as cardiac disease, renal disease or asthma.

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