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WakeMed joins hospitals limiting visitors because of flu

Posted December 28, 2012

— WakeMed announced Friday it will begin restricting visitors to its patient care facilities in an effort to stop the spread of influenza.

Starting Monday, visitors under the age of 18 will not be allowed in patient areas without prior approval from a doctor. Each patient will be limited to two visitors at a time, and visitors who have any symptoms of illness will be asked to return home.

Dr. West Lawson, chief medical officer for WakeMed, said the restrictions are necessary to help reduce the risk of infection for patients and employees during one of the harshest flu seasons to hit the state in the past decade.

“As health care providers, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect our patients from the spread of illness,” Lawson said. “Our patients are more acutely ill than at most health care facilities, and contracting the flu can significantly complicate or delay recovery and discharge.”

The number of people going to the hospital with flu-like symptoms is up 30-fold from a year ago, officials said.

WakeMed spokeswoman Heather Monackey said the restrictions weren't put in place immediately to allow the hospital to get everything in order ahead of time.

WakeMed joins other health care providers who have restricted visitors because of flu. Duke University Health System, Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton and FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst have implemented similar guidelines.

WakeMed With flu season peaking, WakeMed takes steps to limit infection

flu shot Fighting flu season in NC

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has said that flu activity in the state is at the highest level recorded in the past decade. There have been 14 flu-related deaths since early October, with 11 of the deaths in patients ages 65 and older.

During the 2011 flu season, only nine people in North Carolina died.

"This is one of the worst flu seasons we’ve had, certainly in recent years," said Dr. Zack Moore, a medical epidemiologist with the state Division of Public Health. "Every year is different. It’s hard to predict what will happen."

The flu season is peaking now and is expected to last at least another six weeks. Moore said people can still get a flu shot and be protected against the virus.

Free flu shots are available from most local health departments and many providers. Visit flu.nc.gov for more information.

"We’ll have flu still certainly circulating into January and February, but we hope not at the levels we’ve seen so far," Moore said.

11 Comments

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  • kikinc Dec 31, 10:56 a.m.

    You can't force anyone to get the flu shot. What about those who have an egg allergy? Are you going to force them to receive a shot that could cause an adverse reaction or possibly death? Or since they can't have the shot, they're not supposed to leave the house for the entire flu season. The flue shot isn't 100% effective, and while it may provide some extra protection, it won't help you if it was for type A and you become exposed to type B. The best thing anyone can do is to STAY HOME when you're sick. Don't spread it.

  • chrisnrali Dec 28, 7:35 p.m.

    Because of THE flu.

  • heelsgirl05 Dec 28, 6:27 p.m.

    I work at Wake and thought it was odd they were waiting too. I was not going to get my shot at first but changed my mind when I saw that Wake was seeing 3 times the amount of people coming in with the flu. Not living in fear, but just being cautious. But please, do these sick people a favor and stay home.

  • rosie48 Dec 28, 4:57 p.m.

    Why are they waiting until Monday to enforce this? Why isn't it immediate???

  • Nicm Dec 28, 4:23 p.m.

    I'm with you Summer! I've tried the flu shot twice and both times I ended up getting sick right after the shot and later on in the year I caught it anyway. There's no way to cover every strain of the flu in a single shot so the way I see it, it's a shot in the dark either way. Anybody remember back around 2008 or so when that really bad strain was making everybody sick and it wasn't covered by the shot? I remember small offices being completely shut down because everybody that worked there was sick. If people would practice basic hygiene and exercise common courtesy like not coming to work while you're sick or sending your child to school sick it wouldn't be nearly as big of a problem.

  • SummerlovinWinterhater Dec 28, 4:03 p.m.

    I've had the flu twice in the past 15 yrs. Both times I received a flu shot, I've gotten the flu, causing me to lose, at least, a week's worth of work. I'll take my chances without one thank you very much. In the meantime, I take every precaution I can to avoid contact with the flu. Including not visiting hospitals.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 28, 3:51 p.m.

    "Why is a mandatory flu shot not a law?"

    What else would you like the Government to force you to do? Flu shots are no guarantee of prevention. Plenty of people that get the shot, still end up getting the flu. I have never gotten the shot. I have had the Flu exactly once in my life and that was a very long time ago.

  • Relic Dec 28, 3:48 p.m.

    Hans - because it's not 100% effective in preventing the flu. It is a precautionary option but it does not replace taking precautions against contact with a flu or similar virus. I personally know of four people that had flu shots and still contracted the flu. Also, some people prefer to use more natural methods than a vaccine to bolster their immune system to combat influenza. Were it as effective as, say, the polio, smallpox, diptheria vaccines then it would probably be a required medication for children and the elderly in the future.

  • Scubagirl Dec 28, 3:37 p.m.

    And sadly people tend to NOT think about others when they visit family in the hospital with their germs and all. Makes sense and personally I think some restrictions should be in place all the time, not just during flu season. Folks in the hospital usually have immune systems that are not 100% and that makes it so much easier for them to get sick, oftentimes VERY sick. I know people want to visit granny or uncle bob but it's not always a good idea

  • Scubagirl Dec 28, 3:35 p.m.

    stick around Hans and read the posts and you will see that it might be more trouble than it's worth. You simply cannot legislate common or good sense.

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