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Flu forces hospital visitor restrictions

Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 21:35:28-05

JACKSON, Mich. — Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital in Jackson has implemented new visitor restrictions because of influenza.

Effective immediately -- no one younger than 12 will be allowed to visit patients at the hospital.

Hospital authorities say the restrictions will be in place indefinitely, however, it depends on what happens with the flu season in Michigan.

ER Doctor Nicholas Dyc told Fox 47 that's because influenza is spreading across the state.

"It's a big issue every winter but especially this winter," Dr. Dyc said. "Influenza can affect anybody of any age, any health level and so from our perspective, it's our job as providers and leaders in the community to to keep our family and our friends healthy. The hospital is full of germs and we do our best to manage that, but patients come to the emergency department (of) the hospital because they're sick."

The hospital sees more than 75,000 patients every year, which amounts to an average of 241 a day, but during this time of year, flu season, they've seen one too many cases.

"Over the last few weeks, there's been quite a few and that's why we institute these policies," Dr. Dyc said. "Each year the flu affects thousands of people and kills many people as well so minimizing exposure is going to help reduce the spread."

Dr. Dyc said they are taking it so seriously because it's an illness that can quickly turn fatal.

"Influenza can spread throughout your entire body and particularly your lungs and cause pneumonia and that's the most common way that influenza kills."

However, he said enforcement of the policy will be on the honor system.

"We are not forcibly removing anybody from the hospital. It is not a legal mandate by any means, but it's a courtesy and something that we take serious enough to ask our patients (and) their visitors to consider these policies as they do affect other people."

Dr. Dyc said it's not too late to get the flu shot and said he hopes people will consider it as soon as possible. Doctors say flu season usually lasts until April.

"This is something that is easy to not take seriously, it's something where we think it's okay until it's not okay and that is not the right approach."

For patients who already have appointments, the hospital is asking that they wear a mask and wash their hands often.

The Department of Health and Human Services is reporting that flu activity is regional right now, which is the second-worst category. Nationally, 19 flu-related deaths have been reported so far.

Fox 47 checked with Sparrow and McLaren as well, and neither of them have visitor restrictions in place at this time.

They are simply asking people who are sick, to not visit patients.

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