Archbold Hospital and the Fulton County Health Center, Wauseon, implemented temporary visitor restrictions in connection with year’s flu season.
Both hospitals took the action Friday, Oct. 23.
Steve Ringenberg, executive director of Fairlawn Haven, said the nursing home has not established visitor restrictions, but is asking visitors and employees to use hand sanitizer stations installed near building entrances.
FCHC is asking that visitors to the hospital be age 18 or older; at Archbold Hospital, the cutoff is 17.
Both facilities ask the number of visitors per patient be restricted to two adults.
FCHC asks that a potential visitor who is experiencing cold, fever, coughing, or sneezing, not visit the hospital at this time.
Also, FCHC asks that the number of relatives and friends accompanying a patient to the emergency room, outpatient areas, surgery waiting areas, procedure areas, primary care and specialist physician offices, be limited.
If a person is ill and must visit FCHC, ask for a mask.
"The policy does not apply to children under 18 who need emergency care, outpatient services, or hospitalization," FCHC officials state.
Archbold Hospital asks people not to visit patients if they have been recently exposed to anyone who has the flu, or if they have flu symptoms including a fever of 100 degree or more, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and/or body aches.
In a prepared statement, FCHC officials said, "The current flu season is developing differently this year compared to previous years. It has started earlier, more people are becoming ill, and younger people appear to be more susceptible and are becoming seriously ill.
"Two types of influenza, seasonal flu and H1N1 flu, are circulating in the community.
"As a precaution during the rapidly-evolving influenza situation, FCHC has established a temporary restricted visitor policy to help protect patients, family members, other visitors and staff from unnecessary exposure and potential infection with the flu."
"We are taking these extra measures to insure we have the safest possible environment for our patients, and for those under age 18 who are much more vulnerable to the effects of the flu," Dean Beck, FCHC administrator, said.
Steve McCoy, director of marketing and planning for FCHC, said the number of flu cases is on the increase in the area.
"Now is the time to be a little more proactive," he said. "We haven’t been swamped, but we have seen an increase" in flu cases.
"We’re seeing a little uptick in ER (emergency room) visits for flu, and we’ve have some admissions for flu-like symptoms."
So far, there are no verified cases of H1N1 influenza at FCHC.
"We’re not checking IDs at the door, but we’re asking people not to bring children," McCoy said.
Other hospitals in Ohio and Indiana are establishing visitor restrictions, he said.
Phil Ennen, president and chief executive officer of Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers, said the Archbold Hospital patient census has not increased greatly, but there have been additional ER visits.
He speculated that doctors’ offices are being hit harder.
Ringenberg said the Fairlawn hand sanitizer stations are being used, because they have to be continually refilled.
He said Fairlawn is encouraging visitors and employees, himself included, to wash their hands frequently.
"I think more people are aware of H1N1. When they see them (the hand sanitizer stations), they use them," Ringenberg said. –Posted 10.23, 4:51 p.m.