Md. Hospitals Limit Visitors Amid Harsh Flu Season

Md. Hospitals Limit Visitors Amid Harsh Flu Season

News Feb 06, 2018

The Frederick News-Post, Md.

Feb. 06—Two area hospitals have established stricter visitor policies amid a particularly brutal flu season to keep people safe from infection.

Frederick Memorial Hospital issued its guidelines late last month and is restricting patients to no more than two healthy visitors at a time, according to a release issued by the hospital.

Children under 16 are not permitted to visit someone at the hospital except under special circumstances, which will be judged and determined by staff members.

People with symptoms of the flu—including nausea, vomiting, fever, sore throat or muscle aches—are asked not to visit the hospital. If any patient or visitor shows symptoms of the flu but absolutely must be in the building, they are required to wear a face mask and stay away from crowded areas, including the cafeteria and gift shop.

"We'll continue to monitor the situation and update [the restrictions] as needed," spokeswoman Melissa Lambdin wrote in an email Monday.

At the beginning of January, Frederick Memorial recorded 140 positive flu tests in a three-week period. The hospital is still experiencing peak flu season, according to Dr. Vipul Kella, medical director of the emergency department.

In an interview last week, he said that roughly 20 percent of emergency room patients are coming into the hospital with flu-related complaints.

"We're just seeing people come in earlier and sicker this year," Kella said. "This particular flu strain has been around for 50 years, but it just happens to be more prevalent this year, and it's more aggressive than other strains."

Restrictions were also put into place over the weekend at Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown. Patients are allowed to have only one healthy visitor, age 18 or older, at a time.

Continue Reading

Anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted to visit the hospital, according to a release from Meritus.

"The visiting policy may be amended by our infection control experts and hospital clinical leaders in order to best meet the needs of our patients," said Kathy Lewis, director of clinical and service excellence at the hospital. "We are asking for the patience and support of our community as we temporarily restrict some from visiting in order to keep everyone safer from the flu virus."

Emergency rooms across the state have been burdened by a high volume of flu cases this year, according to a news release from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). According to the most recent data from the Maryland Department of Health, the intensity of influenza-like illness is high and the geographic distribution is widespread.

High-intensity flu has been reported across the state for the last three weeks. Frederick Memorial has been on red or yellow alert 17 times over the past month, which means that its emergency room is near capacity or that no cardiac-monitoring beds are available to patients.

During those periods, patients are generally diverted to the next closest hospital unless they're in critical condition, said Jim Brown, director of educational support services for MIEMSS.

"We sent out the alert about emergency rooms because we reached a really high level across the state and it seemed like the flu season had peaked," Brown said. "We were seeing that flu was the reason most people were coming in."

Kate Masters
If you don't desire to influence change in EMS care, then you're an ambulance driver, challenged Maj. Andrew D. Fisher, EMT-P, MPAS, PA-C, during a provocative call to action.
The new Baron eBook details best severe weather procedures for emergency management personnel and public safety officials.
Record flooding in Goshen left residences surrounded, closed main roads, and created a traffic mess.
The Community CaraMedic Program in Asheville, N.C. is the first in the country to have every staff member board-certified in community paramedicine.
A leaking pizza oven forced the building's first seven floors to be cleared; two people had minor injuries.
Evan Travers earned a Life-Saving Award from Learning for Life, which oversees the Fire Explorer program.
That was the total spent in South Carolina in 2016 on overdose admissions and ED visits.
Their bill would deny contracts and tax breaks to insurers who deny claims for nonemergency visits.

Capt. Skyler Phillips, EMT-P, of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Fire Department, presented a session with personal meaning during the EMS Today conference Feb. 22 in Charlotte, N.C.

Peder Hulen-Ahearn holds a master's degree in Public Safety Leadership and Administration and has worked for Ada County Paramedics since 2001.
ZOLL intends to award medical education grants annually to up to 12 qualifying EMTs who demonstrate a career commitment to the profession.
During his time with the company, Shore has focused on modernization of the agency and creating opportunities for the younger generation in EMS.
Nikolas Cruz posed a dilemma: You can't just kick children out of school because you're afraid of them.
A lawsuit seeks to force continuation of a service the health system says it can't afford.
The agency reported 28 people have been infected with salmonella in 20 states, with 11 hospitalized.