Starting Monday, East Alabama Medical Center officials implemented visitor restrictions within the entire hospital because of high levels of flu activity.
Earlier in December, restrictions had been enacted that prohibited children ages 11 and younger from visiting the third floor, which includes the hospital's Childbirth Unit, OB Observation, Mother/Baby Unit, Nursery and Pediatrics.
In the past week alone, 233 confirmed cases of the flu have been seen in the EAMC and EAMC-Lanier Emergency Departments, and 26 patients with flu or flu-like symptoms are currently hospitalized at the two hospitals, according to a news release from EAMC.
The new restrictions ask visitors to follow these guidelines:
1. Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms should not visit any part of the hospital.
2. Visitation is restricted to healthy immediate family members who are 12 years old or older.
3. Visitation in the Emergency Department is limited to one healthy family member (age 12 and older) per patient, and the length of the visits may also be limited.
If someone wishes to reach a patient in the hospital, they can do so by phone. Dialing 334-528 and the patient's room number will connect the caller to the patient. At EAMC-Lanier, callers should dial 334-710-0 and the patient's room number.
If the room number is unknown, the EAMC hospital operator can be reached at 334-749-3411. The EAMC-Lanier operator can be reached by calling 334-756-9180 and selecting option 2.
“We understand the importance of visitation, and we usually encourage it," said Brooke Bailey, infection prevention director at EAMC. "However, unless the patient needs help from a family member, relying on Facetime, texting and other methods of communicating could be beneficial to both the patient and the visitor.
"Our goal in putting these restrictions in place is to slow the spread of the flu and protect our patients who are vulnerable."
Based on prior years, the restrictions will likely remain in place into the month of March, according to the news release.
To prevent the infection or the spread of influenza, wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water; cough or sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not available; use hand sanitizer to clean your hands in public places; use sanitizer wipes to clean surfaces, such as grocery cart handles, in public places; and if you have the flu, isolate yourself at home and do not go to work or school.