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Flu leads Palmetto Health to restrict visitors

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An active flu season has led Palmetto Health hospitals, outpatient facilities and emergency rooms to initiate visitor restrictions to help prevent the spread of illness.

Restrictions include prohibiting anyone under 18 from visiting unless it is ruled a special case or approval is granted from the patient’s physician, as well as limiting the number of visitors to two adults per patient at one time.

People experiencing flulike symptoms are asked not to visit anyone in the hospital’s facilities.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 1,762 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 46 influenza-associated deaths during the first three weeks of flu season.

For the entire 2016-17 season, DHEC reported 2,490 hospitalizations and 94 deaths.

Influenza activity typically begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Activity can last as late as May.

“We really need our community to help us this flu season by following these restrictions. These have been initiated because the flu this year is very active,” said Steve Shelton, emergency room physician and Palmetto Health medical director of emergency management. “It’s impacting our entire health care community, including all emergency rooms and outpatient care facilities. There are extremely long waits and an overflow of patients.

“We want to do everything that we can to assist those who are sick and prevent others from becoming sick.”

Palmetto Heath recommendations to help prevent the spread of flu include:

  • Clean hands frequently. Look for hand hygiene stations around the hospital and use them often. Clean hands when entering and leaving the hospital either by washing with soap or rubbing hands together with hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs. Flu can spread by coughing, sneezing or talking.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get the flu vaccine. 

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