Springfield among hospitals to limit visitors during flu season

Springfield Regional Medical Center is among several area hospitals that have put restrictions on visitors in the midst of flu season.

The restrictions were handed down by the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association in an effort to fight back against the virus. The association represents 29 hospitals and health systems in the Dayton region, including in Clark and Champaign counties.

“There are people at greater risk and anytime you’re having a rise in flu — we want to ask visitors try to stay home,” said Mercy Health - Springfield Chief Nurse Rhonda Beane.

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The hospital association is asking those under 14 to not visit the hospital, unless they are coming for a doctor’s visit, therapy or tests.

Beane said at that age, children have not built up their immune systems entirely — which makes them more susceptible to the virus.

Visitors’ restrictions are also placed on those who are sick with respiratory symptoms, including coughing, fever, chills, headache, vomiting, sore throat or muscle aches.

Ohio’s flu season starts in October and lasts through the beginning of spring — the number of cases can ramp up around the holiday season because people are more likely to be in close proximity to each other.

GDAHA says just since Dec. 1, there have been 30 flu hospitalizations in the region and an increase of 75 percent in outpatient cases.

As of Dec. 13, there have been nine hospitalizations in Clark County, according to data provided by the Clark County Combined Health District.

Those numbers put the county slightly above its five-year average for flu hospitalizations, according to CCCHD.

Champaign County has only reported one flu-related hospitalization case so far this year, according to the Champaign Health District.

GDAHA President & CEO Sarah Hackenbracht said there are also exceptions to the restrictions for special circumstances, such as if a relative or friend is dying.

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“Doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel will work with patients on a case-by-case basis to ensure that patients receive the support needed,” Hackenbracht said.

Springfield Regional has plenty of supplies on hand to make sure that if people do choose to visit the hospital — they’re taking the proper precautions, hospital officials said.

The main and emergency room entrances are equipped with facial masks, tissues and hand sanitizer, which hospital staff encourages everyone to use.

Beane said the temporary policies are not meant to inconvenience people, but prevent the spread of flu.

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding while we try to keep everyone safe,” said Beane.

The guidelines are in place until March 2020 or until further instruction from the hospital association is given.

30 — Flu hospitalizations in the region

75% — Increase in outpatient cases

14 — Minimum age of visitors under new restriction

The News-Sun has been a consistent and reliable source of public health news since the beginning of the flu season earlier this year. Clark County is slightly above the county’s five-year average for flu related hospitalization.

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