Salem Hospital asks ill visitors stay away to cut flu risk

SALEM – With the flu season descending in full force, the staff of Salem Community Hospital (SCH) is asking potential visitors to help protect patients from influenza and other highly contagious illnesses by not visiting the hospital if they are sick and by limiting visitors to two per patient and none under the age of 14. The hospital is also suspending the practice of overnight visitors, however, exceptions may be granted in cases of gravely ill or minor patients.

“Across the region, the rate of influenza-like illnesses has increased dramatically, judging from the high volumes of patients seeking care at doctors’ offices and the increased number of related hospitalizations,” said SCH’s Director of Quality Improvement and Infection Control Lyn Pethtel. “Locally, our area is reporting a significant increase in flu and flu-like cases, which are causing fever, respiratory symptoms and diarrhea. While most people recover from these symptoms in a few days, hospitalized patients who become infected with these illnesses may develop significant complications.”

To help protect patients from influenza and other contagious diseases, SCH is limiting visitors to two per patient, however, exceptions may be granted in cases of gravely ill or minor patients. The hospital is also urging potential visitors who are sick not to visit hospitalized patients. Instead, they are requested to telephone the patient or send an e-card via the hospital’s website at Individuals who feel they must visit a patient also can request a mask as they enter the facility.

In addition, the hospital requests that there be no visitors under the age of 14, because children are exposed to many more germs in schools and day care facilities and can easily infect others. Siblings of babies born at the New Beginnings Family Care Center are encouraged to see their newborn brother or sister through the nursery windows outside the maternity unit.

“Our goal is to limit those at risk from being exposed to the flu,” Pethtel said.

“Our staff and physicians are doing an exceptional job of caring for the large influx of patients arriving at the hospital and those, who are seeking care in doctors’ offices throughout the area,” said Steve Ruwoldt, president/CEO. “We certainly want to recognize and extend our appreciation to each one of them for their dedication and professionalism in helping to manage this flu outbreak.” (Submitted material)