Iowa City hospitals limit visitors during flu season - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City hospitals limit visitors during flu season

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - All three Iowa City hospitals will begin restricting visitors to patients beginning Friday.

"After consulting with public health and our colleagues, we are taking this step in order to limit our patients' exposure to the H1N1 influenza virus. These limits will be in effect until further notice," said Peter Wallace, MD, Vice President of Medical Staff Affairs at Mercy Iowa City.

Visitor restrictions are outlined below:
• No one under the age of 18 may visit any patient area.
• Visitors are limited to two adults (18 or older) per patient at any one time. Special
circumstances may be considered at the end of life or for critically ill patients.
• Individuals who show any signs of influenza (fever greater than 100, respiratory symptoms
such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, or shortness of breath, fatigue, chills, muscle pain,
headache, vomiting or diarrhea) will not be permitted to visit any patient area.

Hospital and public health representatives have been discussing the need for visitor restrictions
based on current influenza activity in the county.

"While we have not documented patients being exposed to influenza from visitors, with so much illness in the community these are reasonable steps for the hospitals to take as a precaution for patients and staff," said Douglas Beardsley, Johnson County Public Health Director.

Persons who have been exposed to influenza may infect others one day before they begin to develop symptoms. The H1N1 influenza virus is also more prevalent in younger age groups. Limiting the number of visitors and restricting the age of visitors will help reduce the risk that patients and staff will be exposed to the virus.

"We understand that this will be an inconvenience and a disappointment to many who want to visit friends and loved ones in our hospitals, but this proactive step will help make our patients safer," said Kenneth Kates, CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. "We appreciate the public's understanding and patience during this unusual time."

Online Producer: Jason Mortvedt

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