January 11, 2019
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.
NJ.com 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 permitting visits from children younger than 13 years old or people with a fever, cough or symptoms such as a sore throat, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. After being free of symptoms for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications) visitation may be allowed by the hospitals.
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.
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, told NJTV it’s important to remember that the hospital shouldn’t always be your first stop if you think you have flu symptoms.
“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 said.