HCN News & Notes

Cooley Dickinson Announces Flu-related Visitor Restrictions

NORTHAMPTON — Given more cases of flu and the severity of this year’s flu strain, Cooley Dickinson Hospital announced a temporary change in its visiting policy.

“We are taking these temporary precautions to limit the number of visitors. This year is about the severity of the flu, the fact that it is particularly dangerous for the young children and seniors, and the widespread activity of flu across our region,” said Linda Riley, infection prevention manager.

Until further notice, the following restrictions are in place:
no children under the age of 14 will be allowed to visit hospitalized patients; in the Childbirth Center, only siblings will be permitted; while visitors are important to a healing environment, the number of visitors should be limited to only those necessary for the patient’s comfort; and people who visit hospitalized patients must clean their hands before entering and after leaving a patient’s room.

In addition, visitors are asked to observe these guidelines: pay close attention to your own health before visiting the hospital, and stay home if you are sick; to help reduce exposure to the flu in waiting areas within the hospital, patients should attend appointments alone or be accompanied by immediate caregivers only; and patients are discouraged from bringing children with them to appointments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while flu vaccine is the most important way to prevent influenza, antiviral drugs are the most important way to treat influenza infection.

Riley strongly encourages people to stay home from work or school if they are sick and offers these reminders: clean your hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom; avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth; and it’s not too late to get the flu shot.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Infection Prevention team will continue to monitor the number of flu cases and will notify the community once the temporary restrictions have been lifted.