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As flu cases rise, Marion County hospitals implement visitor restrictions

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Posted at 11:29 AM, Dec 05, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — All Marion County hospitals will begin restricting visitors this week to help limit the spread of the flu virus in the state.

According to the health department, the rate of influenza-like illness (ILI) reported in patients in Marion County during the week of Nov. 20-26 was the highest it's been in 10 years. The highest rate was among the 5-17 age group.

So far, at least 11 Hoosiers have died from flu-related illness this season. All 11 deaths have been adults over the age of 50.

According to the Marion County Health Department, all hospitals in the county have agreed to implement Tier 1 of the Indianapolis Coalition for Safety's Patient Visitor Policy, beginning Dec. 5.

READ | Central Indiana hospitals prepping for flu season

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

The Tier 1 visitor restriction policy includes:

  • 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 have also implemented additional temporary restrictions you can find the ones provided at the bottom of this article.

READ | Riley PICU, ER see skyrocketing numbers

Visitors will also be required to wear masks in all Marion County hospitals and clinics.

“Flu is hitting Marion County hard right now and much earlier than it has in recent years,” said MCHD Director Dr. Virginia Caine. “Along with recommending the flu vaccine and encouraging frequent handwashing, 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.”

According to the health department, the rate of influenza-like illness (ILI) reported in patients in Marion County during the week of Nov. 20-26 was the highest it's been in 10 years. The highest rate was among the 5-17 age group.

ILI is defined as a temperature of 100°F or greater with a cough and/or sore throat, according to the health department.

The flu isn't the only respiratory virus circulating in high numbers, the health department says COVID-19 and RSV are also causing hospitalizations among all age groups.

The Marion County Public Health Department offers low-cost flu vaccine at its district health offices and the ACTION Health Center by appointment. Flu shots are $20 for adults and kids ages 2-18 and is free for children younger than 2 years old.

For locations and hours of the district health offices and ACTION Health Center, call the Marion County Public Health Department’s immunization program at 317-221-2122 or visit MarionHealth.org/immunize.

Community Health Network Hospital Specific Visitor Restrictions

  • No visitors with flu-like illness, fever, or cough  
  • No visitors under age 18  
  • Only immediate family or partner will be allowed to see patient  
  • No more than two visitors at a time per patient.  
  • Visitors must wear a mask in patient room when requested  
  • Those with influenza/respiratory symptoms may not visit  

IU Health Hospital Specific Visitor Restrictions

  • Only immediate family (18 or older) will be allowed to visit and be on the patient unit, with a limit of two visitors at any one time.
  • Visitors younger than 18 years* will not be permitted on patient units (exceptions made for parents/guardians younger than 18).
  • Masking is required for visitors and team members in all patient encounters (i.e., when in a room with a patient).
  • Visitors who have flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills or muscle aches, will not be allowed to visit patients.
  • Visitors, vendors, volunteers and team members must be vigilant about hand washing and covering coughs.

The flu is “spread by respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets. People can also become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose,” according to the ISDH.

Symptoms include:

  • fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat

While there is no cure for the flu, some medications can help ease symptoms, according to health officials.