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Hospitals in Marion County begin visitor restrictions due to flu

A nurse suits up with protective gear before entering a patient's room at the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, N.H., Jan. 3, 2022. The omicron variant has caused a surge of new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and many hospitals are not only swamped with cases but severely shorthanded because of so many employees out with COVID-19. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Anyone who wants to visit a hospital in Marion County will need to follow new, temporary restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

The following rules went into effect Monday and include:

  • No visitors with symptoms of influenza.
  • No visitors under the age of 18.
  • Visitors limited to two immediate family members as identified by the patient.

Hospitals participating in the temporary visitor restrictions include those within Ascension St. Vincent, Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, and Indiana University Health.

“Flu is hitting Marion County hard right now and much earlier than it has in recent years,” Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Public Health Department director and chief medical officer, said in a statement. “These restrictions are part of a multi-faceted effort to help protect the most vulnerable patients in our community from the flu virus, which can cause significant illness and, in certain cases, lead to extended hospitalization or death.”

During the week of Nov. 20-26, the rate of influenza-like illness reported in patients at Marion County emergency rooms was the highest in 10 years. The rate of influenza-like illness was highest in children between the ages of 5 and 17.

Visitors should check with a hospital’s website or call the hospital before visiting to learn more about specific restrictions and any exceptions. Special arrangements can be made to allow additional visitors or younger visitors in certain situations, such as end of life.

Some hospitals outside of Marion County have also adopted visitor restrictions, including Franciscan Health Carmel, Franciscan Health Mooresville, IU Health Saxony Hospital, and IU Health Tipton Hospital.