ALTOONA – Altoona Regional Health System is modifying hospital visiting guidelines to protect patients, health care providers and the public during the current influenza season.
Effective immediately, all visitors must be at least 18 years of age and a member of the patient’s immediate family or a caregiver for the patient. Only two visitors at a time are permitted at a patient’s bedside.
All visitors to maternity must abide by these guidelines and wear a surgical mask provided by the hospital.
As always, anyone feeling ill should not visit a hospital patient, especially if they have signs or symptoms of a cold or the flu.
The decision to restrict visiting was made with input from infection prevention specialists due to an upswing in seasonal flu cases, according to Linnane Batzel, chief medical officer.
Exceptions can be made for critical cases, and Batzel said the health system will work with families in those situations.
She said the restrictions are temporary but are in effect until further notice and will change as the situation warrants.
Altoona Regional’s Infection Control department encourages people to continue to follow the precautions everyone should take during flu season. They include:
- Good respiratory/cough etiquette: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw your tissue in the trash. Perform hand hygiene afterward.
- Good hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Flu-like symptoms can include fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat and cough, and rarely nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.