The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 18, 2013

Evangelical issues visitation restrictions because of the flu

The Associated Press

— LEWISBURG — Evangelical Community Hospital Friday issued a temporary restriction on hospital visitation for children under age 12 to help reduce the spread of influenza.

While Evangelical Community Hospital has seen some influenza-like illnesses, the number of cases has not caused alarm among infection control officers who have been monitoring the situation. The visitation restriction is strictly precautionary as the trends of influenza are unpredictable, hospital administrators said.

Geisinger imposed similar restrictions earlier this week.

"In an effort to keep our patients, staff and guests safe and protected from the influenza virus, the hospital is limiting visitation from children aged 12 and under. While we are not currently experiencing unprecedented levels of influenza cases at Evangelical, we feel that this temporary restriction is the right thing to do to protect our patients and staff,” said John L. Kryston, DO, Medical Director of Infection Control.

“Our employees have done everything possible to prevent an outbreak with 97% of the workforce receiving flu shots and the other 3% wearing masks whenever in the Hospital. We take these types of steps as a proactive way to avoid ever seeing an outbreak.”

Community members are reminded the best prevention against getting the flu is to receive a flu shot. Flu season typically runs through the end of March so it’s not too late to protect against any future flu outbreak.

Those who are feeling sick should see their primary care physician and avoid going to the Hospital unless absolutely necessary. Staying home from work and avoiding high-traffic public areas when exhibiting signs of sickness limits the spread of influenza and other illnesses.

Guests to the hospital are encouraged to wash hands with soap and water or the provided alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze into tissues or the crook of their elbows, and wear masks if they want to avoid getting sick. Hand sanitizer, tissues, and masks are available at sneeze stations located throughout the Hospital. Any visitors who are ill with fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, or body aches should not come to visit inpatients.

Flu vaccinations are available at the Evangelical Community Health Education Center (next to the Hospital) located on Route 15 on Mondays from 9 am to noon, Wednesdays from noon to 4 pm, and Fridays from 9 am to 1 pm. Individuals interested in receiving the flu shot should schedule an appointment by calling (570) 768-3200.