Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
No children younger than 18 are allowed in Northern Montana Hospital or the care center until the conclusion of flu season. Children are at a high risk of contracting the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. To limit the exposure to other high-risk groups of elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the hospital decided to decrease people traffic through the centers, said Ginny Heberly, an infection prevention specialist at the hospital. The hospital also is encouraging adults with flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, nausea and diarrhea, to refrain from visiting patients at the hospital, she said. To further decrease the risk of spreading germs, hand sanitizer is available outside of each patient's room, and visitors are asked to use it before entering and when leaving, Heberly said. Also, she said, cough into a tissue or clothing at the elbow, wash hands and stay home if not feeling well. The measure, effective now and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hill County Health Department, is in place until the end of flu season. But when that will be is ambiguous due to an early start to the flu season with an outbreak of swine flu in the spring, Heberly said. Lifting of the measure will depend on sickness levels in the community, Heberly said, and the hospital also will follow recommendations by the health department and CDC. "It's just kind of a wait-and-see thing," she said. People younger than 18 are still Allowed in the hospital to see care providers. For more information about swine flu and recommendations from the health department and CDC, call the health department hotline at 265-3635.