Oregon Health & Science University is limiting visitors younger than 12 to many of its inpatient units and begin screening all visitors for the presence of an influenza-like illness.
Yesterday Legacy Health placed limitations on visitors aged 18 and under, particularly in areas where pregnant women receive services and in Intensive Care Units.
Beginning last Friday, Oct. 2, OHSU began informing patients and their families that children younger than 12 would not be allowed in the following areas:
• OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital inpatient units
• OHSU Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center
• Women's Health Units, including Labor and Delivery and the Mother Baby Unit
• Adult Oncology
• Adult Bone Marrow Transplant
• Adult Solid Organ Transplant
"School-aged children are known to be contagious with the flu for longer periods of time and aren't always able to tell others when they have developing respiratory symptoms," said Judy Guzman-Cottrill, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital and co-director of the OHSU Infection Control Program. "Younger children also aren't as capable of following good respiratory etiquette by fully covering their coughs and sneezes and thoroughly washing their hands."
OHSU also began screening visitors to all inpatient units by asking whether they have had a fever in the past 48 hours or whether they have a cough or sore throat. Visitors answering yes to either of these questions will be asked to stay home until they have been without symptoms for at least 24 hours. Symptom-free visitors will be asked to wear a sticker for the duration of their visit to OHSU.
"Limiting visitors was a difficult decision," said Brett Sheppard, M.D., OHSU interim chief medical officer. "We recognize the hardships this may cause some patients, but we hope people understand it was done to protect our patients, visitors and the staff who care for them. Because the vaccine is not readily available, limiting visitors was determined to be an effective method of trying to restrict the spread of this virus.".
The limitations include: Visitors ages 18 and younger are being limited to only immediate family members; no visitors ages 18 and younger are being allowed into ICUs or Family Birth Centers; only two immediate family members or support persons can accompany expectant moms to the Family Birth Center during their hospital stay and delivery; patients and visitors with respiratory symptom are being asked to wear a mask; the mask may be removed if the person is in a private room and does not have any flu symptoms – for example fever, coughing, sneezing, sniffles; people should not visit Legacy patients if they have any flu symptoms
Legacy officials said their concerns are especially aimed at pregnant women, who are at extra risk from the N1N1 virus.
In a statement, the hospital said it is in the process of posting signs at major entrances to hospitals and patient care areas, and "hope the signs will help visitors self-regulate.
"There will need to be some amount of flexibility, but Legacy Health trusts that visitors will understand the importance of these measures in keeping patients and staff safe."