COLUMBIA, SC — Due to increasing cases of seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses, Prisma Health announced it will begin barring children under 16 from patient visits at its hospitals until further notice. order. Restrictions begin Wednesday, December 27, 2023.
“We do this to protect our patients, their loved ones and our own team members from the spread of seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses,” said Dr. Sangita Dash, infectious disease specialist at Prisma Health. Some exceptions may be allowed at the discretion of hospital administration, she said.
In the Columbia area, the health system includes Prisma Health Richland, Prisma Health Baptist, Prisma Health Heart and Prisma Health Children’s Hospital.
Prisma Health will continue to monitor the situation and adjust visits as necessary to ensure the safety of patients, their loved ones and team members. Visitors are recommended to wear a mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, but are not obligatory.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been tracking the number of cases of influenza, COVID and other respiratory illnesses. Nationally, the CDC saw an increase in emergency room visits (+6.6%), hospitalizations (+10.4%), and COVID-related deaths (+3.4%) over the last week.
In South Carolina, DHEC’s Flu Watch for the week of December 10-16 shows there were 370 flu-related hospitalizations at 54 hospitals and one flu-related death. Since the start of the flu season, 12 flu-related deaths have been reported in South Carolina, with the first reported on September 27.
DHEC recommends that all eligible individuals ages 6 months and older receive the latest flu and COVID variant vaccines to protect against seasonal respiratory illnesses. The agency offers flu shots at select county health departments. If you have symptoms, it is advisable to stay home, get tested, and seek treatment for respiratory illness.
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