The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 22, 2013

Fighting the flu: Evangelical restricts visitations by children under age 12


The Daily Item

---- — LEWISBURG — Evangelical Community Hospital has issued a temporary restriction on hospital visitations for children younger than 12 to help reduce the spread of influenza.

While the 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 also imposed visitation restrictions last 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 Dr. John L. Kryston, medical director of infection control.

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

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 future flu outbreaks.

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 limit the spread of influenza and other illnesses.

Visitors 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 visit patients.

Flu vaccinations are available at the Evangelical Community Health Education Center, next to the hospital along Route 15, on Mondays from 9 to noon, Wednesdays from noon to 4 and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. People should schedule appointments by calling 768-3200.