With influenza and influenza-like illnesses on the rise throughout much of the state—including locally —East Alabama Medical Center officials have made the decision to put visitor restrictions in place at both EAMC and EAMC-Lanier.
Effective Thursday, Dec. 20, visitors to either hospital are asked to follow these guidelines:
- Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms should not visit anywhere in the hospital. However, most patients can be reached by phone. Just dial 334-528 and the patient’s room number (example: 334-528-0000).
- Visitation in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Pediatrics and Childbirth Unit (including Labor & Delivery and the Mother/Baby dept.) is restricted to healthy immediate family members who are age 12 and older.
- Visitation in the Emergency Department (ED) is also limited — only one healthy family members (age 12 and up) per patient and the length of visits may be limited.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, most of Alabama is now experiencing a significant increase in influenza activity. This comes just one week after Alabama was listed as having “low” influenza activity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Since Sunday, a total of 61 confirmed cases of the flu have been seen in the EAMC and EAMC-Lanier Emergency Departments. Brooke Bailey, Infection Prevention director at EAMC, says hospitals putting visitor restrictions in place as a result of the flu is not unusual.
“We had to put them in place last winter and I know many other hospitals did as well," she said. "Our goal in doing so is to slow the spread of the flu and protect our patients who are vulnerable.”
Bailey says following the tips listed below will further help everyone in preventing the spread of the flu, especially during the holidays when families and friends are gathered together.
Tips for preventing and/or controlling the spread on 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.
- If you have the flu or flu-like symptoms, isolate yourself at home; do not go to work or school.