Lake Health System limiting visitors because of flu

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CONCORD TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW)– If you are sniffling, coughing or sneezing, doctors suggest you avoid public places where you might spread the flu. One local health system is asking people with flu symptoms not to visit patients in any of its hospitals until they recover.

“We’ve had 60  cases of flu since the beginning of the year. We’ve treated over 100 cases through the emergency, of influenza,” said Dr. John Baniewicz.

Cases of the flu are growing fast across Lake County. On Tuesday, the Lake Health System announced it is now limiting visitors at its three hospitals: West Medical Center, Beachwood Medical Center and TriPoint Medical Center in Concord Township.

“We want to try to keep our family members healthy. We want to try to keep our patients healthy, try to keep our staff healthy and, we try to do this by placing restrictions in place when the flu activity gets really that high,” Baniewicz said.

Starting immediately, the following restrictions are in place for hospital visitors: They must be at least 18 years old, only two healthy visitors will be allowed per patient, no adult will be allowed to visit a patient if they have flu-like symptoms or have been diagnosed with the flu in the past seven days. Visitors will also be required to wash their hands, using soap and water or hand sanitizer, before and after their visit.

“Patients anymore that are in the hospital already are generally pretty sick and so they’re compromised and so they’re at increased risk to get flu-related complications…. The last thing they need to do is have the burden of getting influenza on top of that as well,” Baniewicz said.

Lake Health administrators also ask patients visiting their urgent care centers to wear a mask, which they will provide. They also request that anyone with flu-like symptoms reschedule any outpatient appointments, such as physical therapy, or routine lab or imaging procedures.

“Don’t come visit at the hospital if you’re sick… Stay home, probably stay home from work if you’re sick, so that you don’t spread the infection to other people,” Baniewicz said.

We checked with a few other hospitals in Northeast Ohio. MetroHealth has not implemented any special restrictions because of the flu. University Hospitals has posted signs asking people with the flu not to visit patients, but there are no formal restrictions.

Lake Health said it will make exceptions in some circumstances.

Medical experts remind everyone that it is still not too late to get a flu shot.

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