GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Visitation to patients at Greenville Health System hospitals has been restricted for people under 18 years old, with the exception of special circumstances, due to the rapidly spreading flu.
“Flu levels are increasing throughout our area, and we need to take these additional steps to help protect the health and safety of our patients,” Robin LaCroix, MD, medical director of GHS Children’s Hospital, said. “Flu can cause serious complications and even cause death. We ask that everyone continue to take steps to help keep themselves healthy over the flu season, including getting flu shots and practicing good hand hygiene such as frequent hand washing. We appreciate everyone’s help in helping protect our patients as well as the community at large.”
According to a news release, children approved to visit the hospital will be asked to wear a mask to help prevent possible respiratory illness.
GHS also asked that anyone with a respiratory illness to not visit patients until their symptoms are gone.
Health officials said the visitation restrictions will continue until cases of flu decreases.
According to Dr. Robin Lacroix, a medical director at Children’s Hospital in Greenville, the flu came earlier than expected this year, which caught many off guard.
“It arrived about a month earlier than anticipated,” she told 7 News on Wednesday.
Dr. Lacroix cited manufacturers of flu prevention medicine, like Tamiflu, as an example. She said that manufacturers hadn’t stocked up in time.
“They were planning on having extra time to meet the demand.”
She added that this also made it more difficult for people to find the prescription at local drug stores.
“The CVS’s and the Wallgreens and other retail pharmacies are having to order to order them in smaller quantities than in the past, that they were allowed to.”
More than 623 positive cases of flu has been reported for the week ending Dec. 31, with 34 people being admitted to a GHS hospital in that time frame.
According to the release, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has reported nine deaths in the state as of Dec. 30.
Hospitals through GHS are also taking additional precautions and all visitors are asked to wash their hands before and after visiting.
AnMed Health officials are also asking all visitors to “voluntarily stay away from the hospital,” asking the public to only come to the emergency department with emergency medical needs.
Officials said their emergency department staff is working with an unusually high number of people with flu and gastrointestinal distress.
Precautions to prevent the spread of flu include:
– Limit visitors to two adults per patient at any time. Limiting the number of visitors per patient will help control the spread of the illness.
· Do not bring children on hospital visits. Children are more likely to get sick and spread viruses.
· Wash your hands frequently. Look for hand-washing stations around the hospital, and use them often. Please make sure to clean your hands when entering and leaving the hospital either by washing with soap or rubbing your hands together with hand sanitizer.
· Do not visit the hospital if you have symptoms of the flu or gastrointestinal illness. Signs of the flu include fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose or sore throat. Signs of gastrointestinal distress include vomiting and diarrhea.
· Get the flu vaccine. Getting the simple shot can help increase your chances of staying healthy and avoid getting others sick.