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Marion Co. Public Health Department calls on Indianapolis area hospitals to instate visitor restrictions

Indianapolis-area hospitals instate visitor restrictions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis-area hospitals are joining together to instate similar visitor restrictions as cases of respiratory viruses rise.

This comes after the Marion County Public Health Department encouraged IU Health, Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, Franciscan Health, Eskenazi Hospital, and Community Health Network to have similar requirements.

These restrictions include no visitors younger than 18, only two people allowed in at a time in most cases, and no visitors who are sick or have any symptoms themselves.

These symptoms include a fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pains, sore throat, or runny nose.

Hospitals are allowing exceptions to some of these restrictions in the case of end-of-life.

“It got, in the past, somewhat confusing,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, the director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. “One hospital said one thing and another hospital had different things but this is the most effective from an infection control standpoint of having all the recommendations to the public where we are all united.”

Experts across the area say this is standard practice around this time of year and has been happening in various levels of severity for at least a decade at some hospitals.

“This is something we’ve actually done for years when flu and RSV rolled around,” explained Dr. Paul Calkins, the chief quality and safety officer at IU Health. “Of course, COVID added a little bit of a wrinkle because it’s a third disease instead of the two we’ve dealt with every winter for decades.”

Ultimately, experts say, these restrictions are to protect vulnerable hospital patients and slow the spread of these diseases.

“Their immune system is already low and some of them are immunocompromised so it’s much easier for them to catch other illnesses,” said Sherry Weir, manager of infection prevention at Franciscan Central Indiana Division.

While the restrictions are similar across the four major hospital groups here in Indianapolis you should check with each set of requirements before visiting.

The specific restrictions for each hospital can be found below:

Visitor Restrictions

Thank you for your understanding as we strive to keep our patients, families, visitors and associates healthy and safe.

Indiana is experiencing a significant increase in respiratory virus illnesses including RSV, influenza (commonly known as flu) as well as COVID-19. In an effort to protect our patients, families, visitors and associates, Ascension St. Vincent is implementing updated temporary Visitor Restrictions, effective Thursday, December 21, 2023.

This temporary restriction at our sites of care will assist us in limiting the spread of respiratory viruses, ensuring that we are best equipped to provide exceptional care to our patients.

In alignment with the latest recommendations from public health authorities and city and state officials, visitation at Ascension St. Vincent will be limited based on the following criteria:

  • No visitors with respiratory-like illness, fever or cough
  • No visitors under the age of 18 (unless they are a parent of a patient)
  • Limited to two (2) visitors at a time

Ascension St. Vincent has implemented additional visitor restrictions for the safety of the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care patients in our care:

  • Visitation will be limited to two visitors at a time, who may be any of:
    • two (2) parents/guardians and,
    • four (4) designated adults identified by the parents/guardians, not to exceed a total of six (6) designated adults

We will continue to monitor the respiratory virus activity in the communities/counties and lift these restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. 

Should you have questions or concerns requiring special consideration, please reach out to your loved one’s nurse.

Ascension St. Vincent Hospital

Visiting restrictions are set to begin at IU Health hospitals except those in the South Central Region

  • All IU Health hospitals except those in the South Central Region will limit visitors beginning Tuesday, Dec. 26.
  • South Central Region facilities will limit visitors beginning Wednesday, Dec. 27.
  • Riley Hospital for Children is already observing restrictions.

IU Health Infection Prevention recommends wearing a mask during direct patient care due to the high levels of circulating viruses in the community.

  • There is a limit of two visitors (18 or older) at any one time (exceptions can be made for end-of-life-situations).
  • Visitors younger than 18 years will not be permitted on patient units.
  • Visitors who have flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills or muscle aches, will not be allowed to visit patients.
  • Masking is suggested for visitors to protect patients due to high levels of circulating viruses.
  • Visitors, vendors, volunteers and team members must be vigilant about hand washing and covering coughs.

Visitor restrictions going into effect at all Community Health Network Hospitals
Protecting patients as respiratory illnesses are on the rise 

Due to the current increase in respiratory illnesses, temporary visitor restrictions will take effect on Thursday, December 21, 2023 at all Community Health Network hospitals in Central Indiana. This includes Community Hospital North, Community Hospital East, Community Hospital South, and Community Heart and Vascular Hospital in Indianapolis, Community Howard Regional Health in Kokomo, and Community Hospital Anderson. 

Community Health Network is working closely with the Marion County Health Department and joins other Indianapolis hospitals in implementing Tier One of the Patient Visitation Policy. The temporary visitor restrictions at all our hospitals include: 

  • No visitors under age 18
  • Visitors are limited to patient’s immediate family or as identified by patient 
  • No more than two visitors at a time per patient
  • Visitors must wear a mask in patient room when requested 
  • Those with respiratory symptoms may not visit 

These restrictions are part of our commitment to ‘patients first’ by keeping our hospital environment as healthy as possible. 

Community Health Network

Franciscan Health Updates Hospital Visitor Restrictions for Central Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – With increasing activity of respiratory viruses such as flu, COVID-19 and RSV, Franciscan Health hospitals in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel are implementing new visitation restrictions.

These changes only affect inpatient areas and do not apply to outpatient departments. The following policy goes into effect Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023:

  • Visitors must be at least 18 years of age.
  • If visiting a patient who has respiratory symptoms, visitors are asked to keep a mask on and do not visit the cafeteria, coffee & gift shops or waiting rooms.
  • Those having symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including, but not limited to: cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea, tiredness, headache and vomiting, will not be allowed to visit.
  • Visitors should continue to practice good hand hygiene.
  • Only two visitors per patient are allowed to visit at a time (excluding clergy who are part of the care team).
  • Visitation hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The new policies are being implemented with input from Franciscan Alliance leadership and in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, Indiana Department of Health and Marion County Health Department.

The rate of influenza-like illness (ILI) reported in patients at Marion County emergency departments this year has been 4.63%, the second highest year for cases. ILI is defined as a temperature of 100°F or greater with a cough and/or sore throat.

Franciscan Health urges everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot as the first and most important step for protecting against flu viruses.

Franciscan Health

Visitor restrictions begin at Riley Hospital for Children

Temporary restrictions to help protect vulnerable patient population as cases of pediatric respiratory viral infections and the flu increase

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – In response to the increase of respiratory illnesses in the community, Riley Hospital for Children is implementing temporary visitor restrictions. Restrictions at Riley Hospital will be effective beginning at 9:00 p.m. tonight, December 11th.

These visitor restrictions are a proactive and precautionary measure to safeguard the health of our patients, their families, and our staff during this time. The restrictions will remain in place until respiratory illness rates decline, typically during the spring.

Visitor Restrictions

  • Only parents or legal guardians and four adults identified by parents/legal guardians will be allowed.
  • Maternity patients are allowed to have six designated adult visitors.
  • No visitors under the age of 18 will be allowed to visit, including siblings. Exceptions can be made in certain cases and will be at the discretion of the unit manager.
  • Any person showing signs of illness should not visit until they are healthy.

Riley Hospital for Children

Hospitals in Marion County Make Plans for Temporary Visitor Restrictions

INDIANAPOLIS – In response to increased activity of respiratory viruses such as flu, COVID-19 and RSV, hospitals in Marion County will soon begin implementing temporary restrictions for visitors. Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Marion County Public Health Department, Virginia A. Caine, M.D., is making the request as part of the patient visitor policy of the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety.

Hospitals in Marion County plan to implement temporary visitor restrictions that include:

  • No visitors with symptoms of illness such as sudden onset of fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, and runny nose.
  • No visitors under the age of 18.

The restrictions are designed to help protect the most vulnerable patients from these viruses. As with any time of the year, a visitor who is not feeling well should stay home. Visitors should observe the standard practices of washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes when around others. Masks will be provided for guests by the facility.

Visitors should check with a hospital’s website or call the facility in advance to learn more about its specific restrictions, any exceptions, and when visitor restrictions will begin at that hospital. Special arrangements can be made with each facility to allow additional visitors or younger visitors based on circumstances, such as end of life.

Marion County hospitals participating in the temporary visitor restrictions include those within Community Health Network, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Ascension St. Vincent, Indiana University Health, and Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital.

Vaccines are currently available for flu, COVID-19 and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). Dr. Caine strongly urges vaccination for all who are eligible, but especially for people at higher risk of serious complications from illness.

“Getting vaccinated for flu helps protect everyone, but especially the very young and those over age 65,” said Dr. Caine. “Vaccines for RSV and COVID-19 are also very important. RSV vaccine is recommended for pregnant women and for adults ages 60 and older. Like the flu vaccine, updated COVID-19 vaccine is available and recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older.”

Flu can cause significant illness and, in some cases, lead to extended hospitalizations or death, and RSV causes hospitalizations and deaths for infants and those over age 60.

COVID-19 still causes hospitalizations and death in the immunocompromised and those over age 60 – who are the most at-risk – but children, teens, and adults up to age 60 are also vulnerable to short and long-term complications and hospitalization.

The Abrysvo RSV Vaccine is recommended during weeks 32-36 of pregnancy to protect the newborn from hospitalization. People should talk with their medical provider about these vaccines and which ones are recommended for them based on age and other factors.

The Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety is comprised of chief executive, medical, nursing, quality, safety, and pharmacy officers from six Indianapolis health systems. In addition, there is participation by the Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana Department of Health, and the Marion County Public Health Department. The coalition is a non-profit public charity organization.

Marion County Public Health Department