St. Marys hospital restricting hours during flu season

By Tara Jones -

ST. MARYS — Joint Township District Memorial Hospital announced that it has implemented restricted visitation beginning today through the remainder of the flu season.

According to a press release, the restriction is precautionary to minimize the spread of respiratory infections to hospital patients, employees and the community. The restriction is estimated to last until March.

The restriction includes children under the age of 14 in the hospital for visitation purposes as well as anyone exhibiting flu or cold symptoms, according to Kristi Koch, R.N., infection prevention specialist. It does not apply to those visiting the hospital for tests, therapy or a doctor’s appointment.

Lima Memorial Health System and Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center, along with the other Grand Lake Health office locations, are not operating under restricted visitation at this time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal influenza activity in the U.S. continues to increase and has been elevated for seven weeks. Common flu signs identified by the CDC include a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and occasionally fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

According to the CDC, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between a cold and the flu because of shared symptoms but states that cold symptoms are usually milder.

“The action of restricting visitors exhibiting respiratory symptoms, including fever, coughing and sneezing, and children under the age of 14 is a precautionary measure,” Koch stated in the release. “Flu season has started and hospitals want to ensure they can keep unnecessary contamination away from patients whose immune systems are compromised. It is also important to help keep nurses and other patient care employees healthy so that they can take care of the patients.”

Koch explained hospital personnel will work with patients on a case-by-case basis to ensure patients receive the support needed.

By Tara Jones

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.