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January 11, 2019

New Jersey hospitals restrict visitors in effort to limit spread of flu

No visits allowed by children and people with flu-like symptoms

Prevention Flu
hospital hallway pexels Oles kanebckuu/Pexels

In light of the staggering statistics regarding the number of Americans who have been infected by the flu already this year — a whopping 7.3 million so far, according to CNBC — and the first local death of a child by the flu this season, some hospitals in New Jersey have banned children from visiting. reports that Inspira Health, home to four facilities in South Jersey — Elmer, Vineland, Woodbury and Bridgeton — said in a statement that it is no longer authorizing visits from children younger than 13 years old. Additionally, persons of any age with a fever, cough or symptoms such as a sore throat, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are similarly banned. Visitors will be welcomed back after spending 24 hours symptom-free. 

Atlantic Health System, in the northern part of the state, has taken similar action at six facilities.

“By limiting the number of people who enter our facilities, we’re able to better control the spread of viruses and infections, and minimize unnecessary risk of exposure,” Laura Anderson, director of infection prevention for the health system, said in a statement, reports.

RELATED READ: First flu-related pediatric death of the season confirmed in New Jersey

Atlantic Health System operates te Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, Newton Medical Center in Newton, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. 

U.S. News reports that similar bans are popping up at hospitals across the country — especially in states with a high flu activity. 

“Anyone who comes in with respiratory symptoms, we ask them to mask, or we ask them to go home depending on if they really want to come see their family members," Allison Antonik, infection control manager at Bayonne Medical Center in New Jersey, told NJTV. "Anybody under the age of 12 is completely restricted from coming into the hospital.”  

New Jersey's state epidemiologist, Dr. Tina Tan, reminded NJTV that most flu infections do not require a visit to the hospital. If you do feel that you need to seek care, Tan suggests following this protocol: “Calling ahead, letting your health care provider know that you know might have a potentially communicable disease is helpful for them so that they can triage you accordingly so that you don’t put other people at risk who might also be at the health care facility,” she explains.

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