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Ill. hospital visitors limited because of flu

URBANA – Some Illinois hospitals are barring sick visitors or regulating their visits to limit the spread of flu.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported Saturday that hospitals in Urbana and Hoopeston imposed new rules, joining another Urbana hospital and one in Danville, which had set guidelines earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reported that hospitals in Lincoln and Gibson City also have strictly limited visits. But hospitals in Bloomington, Normal and Pontiac have seen decreases in flu cases.

In most cases, the hospitals are urging children and people who are sick to stay home.

“People who are ill shouldn’t visit someone in the hospital,” Dr. Richard Bivin, medical staff president for Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, said in a statement. “This is true any time of year but especially during flu season.”

The Lincoln hospital asks that visitors be at least 18 and show no signs of illness. Each patient is limited to two visitors at a time. Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services in Gibson City is requesting that people 18 and younger not visit.

Illinois Department of Public Health statistics indicate that 450 people have been in intensive care units with flu this season, with 37 deaths, according to The Pantagraph.

Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center have imposed Public Health Department guidelines: Do not visit if you have a respiratory illness or wear a mask; cough or sneeze into tissues; and wash hands or use sanitizer frequently. If the patient is isolated with flu, only those visitors who are vital to the patient’s well-being are allowed to visit.

Tina Barton, infection prevention official for OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac, says flu cases from its PromptCare, emergency department and doctor’s offices are all down in the past two weeks.

“Keep in mind that this can be due to the terrible weather,” Barton said. “People are just not venturing out into the cold and snow.”

That means less chance to transmit illnesses, said Jaime Neill, manager of OSF PromptCare in Bloomington-Normal.

Saint James, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, while all reporting fewer cases of flu, nonetheless recommend that people who feel under the weather should wear masks, use hand sanitizer and stay at least 3 feet from others.

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