Chicago area hospital changes hospitality policy due to ‘substantial’ rise in flu – NBC Chicago

A Chicago-area hospital is limiting visitors amid a “substantial increase” in flu cases.

Attorney Aurora Health said all of its facilities have a “limited-visitor policy in place to ensure safe care” as they work to “reduce the spread of COVID, flu, and other seasonal diseases”.

A hospital spokesperson told NBC Chicago the decision was “due to the substantial increase in influenza activity.”

Under the policy, only two visitors are allowed at a time for all patients. Masks are also mandatory inside facilities regardless of vaccination status and visitors will need to meet “health screening requirements”.

Here is an overview of the guidelines for visitors:

  • Two visitors at a time are allowed for all patients.
  • Visitors of pediatric patients, including NICU patients, must be 18 years of age or older and authorized by a parent or caregiver.
  • Siblings under the age of 18 can visit healthy newborns if they are healthy and accompanied by a parent.
  • A Substitute Decision Maker is allowed in addition to two visitors for patients who need help making decisions.
  • A doula is allowed in addition to two visitors for labor patients.
  • Religious leaders are allowed in addition to two visitors.
  • In end-of-life situations, the number of visitors allowed depends on the space available and must allow the patient to be treated in complete safety.
  • Our care team can limit visitors, support people and attendants if there is a risk to the health or safety of the patient, visitor or care team.

Health experts in Chicago and across the country have feared since October that an “explosion” of respiratory viruses – RSV, influenza and COVID – could begin to emerge this fall and winter as cases of each continue to rise. .

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “seasonal influenza activity is high across the country,” with levels reported to be elevated in Illinois.

“We continue to see an increase in flu activity, and alongside that there is an increase in outpatient clinic visits, emergency room visits and children hospitalized with flu-like illnesses,” said Dr. Jennifer Seo from the Chicago Department of Public Health last week.

The Illinois Department of Public Health told NBC Chicago last week that the availability of pediatric intensive care beds has dropped to 4% statewide due to cases of children requiring treatment for the virus. respiratory syncytial (RSV), a respiratory virus that usually does not peak until late December. until mid-February.

“We’re kind of overwhelmed with RSV cases. We’re probably at about three to five times our usual normal cases,” said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, chief operating officer of the Cook County Public Health Department. .

Chicago’s top doctor has expressed concern that hospitals will be stretched with the expected rise in illnesses.

“My concern is that COVID really takes off and flu really takes off, it’s really going to continue to stretch our hospital capacity,” Dr. Allison Arwady, public health commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said last week. , adding “the flu happens a lot in Chicago”.

Arwady is expected to receive his bivalent COVID booster shot on Tuesday, while urging people to get both COVID and flu shots.

NBC Chicago

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