HCN News & Notes

Baystate Health Announces Visitor Restrictions Due to Rise in Flu Cases

SPRINGFIELD — In order to protect patients from the influx of flu virus currently circulating in the region, Baystate Health has adopted temporary changes to its visitors policy to provide a safer environment for patients, visitors, and staff during the flu season.

The new flu restrictions apply to all Baystate hospitals, including Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer, and Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the number of cases of influenza-like illness has peaked higher than in the previous two years.

Effective immediately, visitors who have been exposed to the flu at home, or who have symptoms of flu, are asked to refrain from visiting patients in all Baystate hospitals; no more than two visitors at a time are recommended per patient; visitors should be essential for the well-being of patients; and no visitors under 12 years old will be permitted into the hospitals.

Additionally, to help reduce exposure to flu in the waiting rooms of Baystate doctors’ offices and other outpatient settings, patients should come to appointments alone or be accompanied by no more than one other person, if needed. Patients are discouraged from bringing children with them to their appointments, as children are more likely to transmit the flu to others.

Visitors to all Baystate Health hospitals are asked to comply with these new guidelines to help keep already-vulnerable hospital patients safe from flu-related illness, and to help staff stay healthy to meet the community’s healthcare needs. Families and friends who want to connect with a hospitalized patient are asked to consider calling the patient instead, or connecting via e-mail or social media.

Beyond these guidelines, Baystate Health offers the following additional tips to make the public’s visits to the hospital as safe as possible for them and their loved ones:

• Always wash your hands upon entering and leaving the patient’s room;

• Assess your own health before visiting the hospital, and do not visit if you are at higher risk to contract infections;

• If the patient you are visiting has a contagious disease, consider calling instead;

• If you decide to visit a patient with a contagious illness, wear the protective items offered by the medical staff; and

• Flu shots are still widely available and effective.

Baystate Health will continue to review the flu situation, and these restrictions will be lifted once the increased prevalence of flu has passed.

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