UMMC implements visitor restrictions for remainder of flu season


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) —  The University of Mississippi Medical Center are implementing some visitor restrictions for the remainder of flu season.

The hospital said when friends and family who are ill visit hospital patients, they risk spreading the flu virus to a population whose illnesses might already make them susceptible to infection.

Hospital officials said the restriction is due to an increased number of diagnosed flu cases being reported in clinics and at the emergency departments. The changes are being made to address patient and staff safety.

The Medical Center is following the influenza guidelines issued by the CDC,  said Sheila Fletcher, the Medical Center’s director of infection prevention.

UMMC staff said patients would be allowed no more than two healthy adult visitors at any one time, in both private and semi-private rooms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children 12 and under refrain from visiting the hospitals, Fletcher said.

Exemptions are allowed for end-of-life patients, or on a case-by-case basis determined by the patient’s attending physician or nurse in charge on the patient’s floor.

According to the CDC, Mississippi led the nation in the activity level for influenza-like illnesses for the week ending Nov. 18.

For that period, Mississippi, then Louisiana, were the only states at the highest end of activity, which is based on the percent of outpatient visits in a state due to influenza-like illness compared to the average percent of influenza-like illness visits that occur during weeks with little or no influenza virus circulation.

The hospital staff says all faculty, staff, students, and visitors are being instructed to wash their hands properly and to help prevent the spread of germs by covering their mouths while coughing and sneezing. Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough and other respiratory illnesses are spread by coughing, sneezing and unclean hands.

“Frequent hand hygiene and controlling coughs and sneezes will help to prevent the transmission of flu and other viruses,” Fletcher said.

The CDC strongly advises people to avoid close contact with people who are sick, to stay home when they are sick, to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, and to use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and warm water aren’t available for frequent hand-washing. The agency also advises people to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Annually, there are 32,832 hospital admissions to UMMC. There are 143,769 ER visits, 628,947 hospital outpatient visits, and 571,116 clinic visits.

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