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Local flu epidemic has EAMC restricting hospital visitors

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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, 2018,
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 In-
tensive 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 Emer-
gency Department (ED)
is also limited—only 1
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 (see link in
email), most of Alabama is
now experiencing a signif-
icant 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 (Dec.
16), a total of 61 con-
firmed cases of the flu
have been seen in the
EAMC and EAMC-Lanier
Emergency Departments.
Brooke Bailey, Infection
Prevention director at
EAMC, says hospitals put-
ting 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.
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 thor-
oughly (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.