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Mercy hospital cuts visiting hours amid flu concerns


Mercy Regional Medical Center has imposed temporary restrictions on its visitor policy to try to reduce the odds of patients contracting the flu.

Mercy is discouraging children younger than 12 from coming to its hospitals in Lorain and Oberlin and further requesting visitors from spending the night with family members. Both changes are to remain in effect until influenza cases subside, according to a statement issued by LeeAnn Hastings, Mercy marketing and communications manager.

“It’s been a pretty severe flu season,” Hastings said. “We’re seeing so many cases of flu that we don’t want people bringing in viruses, nor do we want visitors catching anything as well.”

The Lorain County General Health District reported what it termed “a slight increase” in the number of confirmed cases of flu from a year ago.

Numbers reported 84 confirmed flu cases countywide for the week of Dec. 22 to 28, according to Ali Cariglio, health educator for the county health district. That figure compares with 71 confirmed cases during the same week in 2012, she said.

Mercy’s emergency department is now seeing 20 to 30 people with flu-like symptoms each day, compared with one to two in December, according to Hastings.

Of the 20 to 30 emergency room cases, five to 10 are testing positive for the flu or other respiratory illnesses.

University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center has not implemented any changes in its visitor policy but is continuing to bar visits by children younger than 12 other than immediate family members to its Family Birth Center because of worries about the flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses, according to information provided by Kristen Davis Kutina, a hospital communications specialist.

UH Elyria Medical Center is also asking anyone with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, coughing or sore throat to stay away from the Family Birthing Center “until further notice,” according to the statement.

Mercy is also requesting those with similar flu-like symptoms to not make visits to Mercy Regional Medical Center in Lorain or Mercy Allen Hospital in Oberlin until those symptoms subside.

“We would hope that most people would understand that if a loved one is in the hospital, they want what’s best for them,” Hastings said.

UH Elyria Medical Center will continue to maintain its year-round policy of asking anyone who is ill with a fever, cold or cough to stay away until their health is improved, according to the statement provided by the hospital.

The Lorain County General Health District will host a special flu shot clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 31.

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot (for the current flu season),” Cariglio said.

Adults do not need to bring any documentation with them to receive a flu shot. However, parents planning to bring children to any of a number of upcoming child immunization clinics sponsored by the health district must provide the child’s current immunization record.

Cost of flu shots is $15 for residents who live within the county health district, and $20 for those who don’t. The county health district provides services to most of Lorain County. It does not cover the cities of Elyria and Lorain, which have their own health departments.

For dates of upcoming immunization clinics, visit www.loraincountyhealth.com.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

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