AHN joins growing list of healthcare providers enacting restrictions to combat flu outbreak

Staff Writer

Decatur Daily Democrat

    The flu bug has hit — and hit hard — across the nation, and Hoosiers are feeling the pain, in more ways than one.
    Officials at Adams Health Network announced visitor restrictions are now in effect at all of its healthcare facilities: Adams Memorial Hospital, Adams Woodcrest and Adams Heritage.
    Residents seeking treatment for illness, including a cough and/or fever, will be given a mask to wear while in public areas, including waiting areas.
    Other restrictions include:
    • Those 18 years of age and younger will not be allowed to visit patients;
    • Anyone, of any age, with flu-like symptoms — such as fever, cough, chills or muscle aches — will not be allowed to visit patients;
    • Visitors will be limited to two essential adults (at least 18 years of age) per patient — such as parents, spouse/domestic partner and spiritual counselors;
    • These restrictions will also include the OB department as well;
    • Special circumstances, such as end-of-life, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
    While AHN officials understand families want to check on loved ones in the hospital or nursing home, it is also important patients and other residents aren't unnecessarily exposed to the flu, a spokesman for the network said. The flu virus can spread to others during the incubation period — the time between when you are exposed and the time you start to experience symptoms. This unknown time is why the flu can spread so quickly.
    Visitor restrictions will be lifted and announced as soon as it is deemed safe for the patients.
    Call Adams Memorial Hospital (724-2145), Adams Woodcrest (724-3311) or Adams Heritage (623-6440) before visiting if there are questions about the temporary restrictions.

    Adams County is not alone in its effort to prevent the spread of the flu virus among patients, staff and visitors as the state sees a surge in influenza cases.
    Hospitals from South Bend to Evansville have also imposed restrictions that include barring visitors other than immediate family or other significant persons.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Indiana was among 23 states with "widespread" flu activity by Dec. 16.
    State health officials consider Indiana to have entered flu season once complaints of flu-like illnesses account for at least 2 percent of visits to hospitals and doctors' offices.
    The Hoosier state didn't hit that 2 percent baseline during its last flu season until early February, but data from state health officials show this season the state reached that level in mid-December.

    Indiana's health commissioner is urging Hoosiers to get flu shots and take other precautions amid the  surge in flu-related illnesses and deaths.
    State Health Commissioner Kris Box said recently anyone who hasn't received a flu shot should do so soon because the vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza, decrease its severity and prevent flu-related deaths.
    She said residents should also wash their hands in warm, soapy water, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and stay at home if they're sick.
    The State Department of Health said 25 flu-related deaths had been recorded statewide by Dec. 30, 2017, during the current flu season.
    Those most vulnerable to the flu include the elderly, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.
    Health officials say the number of flu-related deaths in Indiana rose to 25 during the final full week of 2017, up from nine such deaths the previous week.
    It showed 16 of the deaths occurred among people age 65 or older and seven other deaths in the 50-64 age group. One death each was reported in the 5-24 and 25-49 age groups.
    The report does not say where the deaths have occurred, but said flu activity is widespread across the state.