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Influenza outbreak leads to visitation changes

ALBANY — Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home and St. Mary’s Health Care are among several area hospitals to implement visitation guidelines after the state Commissioner of Health declared the flu to be prevalent in certain areas.

The restrictions went into effect Wednesday.

Hospitals implementing the restrictions include Albany Med; Columbia Memorial Health; Saratoga Hospital; Ellis Medicine, including Ellis Hospital and Bellevue Woman’s Center; St. Peter’s Health Partners acute care hospitals including Albany Memorial Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, St. Peter’s Hospital and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. Glens Falls Hospital implemented restrictions last week.

The restrictions include the following:

∫ A maximum of two visitors will be permitted in a patient’s room at any one time.

∫ Children 12 and younger will be prohibited from visiting patients’ rooms, as they are more likely to have and transmit respiratory infections.

∫ Visitors with rash, diarrhea or respiratory symptoms will be prohibited from visiting patients. These symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath.

The hospitals also are urging all visitors to use hand-washing stations before entering and upon leaving a patient’s room. Hand sanitizers are available at many hospital entrances and at many other locations throughout these hospitals, including the doorways of many patient rooms. Some hospitals have special care units or physical layouts which may have additional visitation restrictions or modifications. People wishing to visit specialty care units or birthing centers are encouraged to call their local hospital to clarify their visitation policies.

Hospital officials advised that it is still important to get the flu vaccine, as it offers the best protection against other circulating strains and will reduce the likelihood of severe illness.

The same guidelines announced Wednesday were developed and temporarily implemented in previous years to address influenza outbreaks. These temporary restrictions are intended to help limit the transmission of the virus and protect the health and safety of patients and the professionals who provide care during the outbreak.

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