Hospital limits visitors to stop the spread of flu - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Hospital limits visitors to stop the spread of flu

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WOOD COUNTY (WAOW) -

If you're visiting Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids, you might notice some new signs.

Hospital officials are limiting visitors.

Only healthy family members are allowed in.

"We have, based on recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Public Health, implemented some restrictions," said Stacey Firkus, Riverview Hospital Infection Control Coordinator.

Riverview Hospital leaders said the severity of this flu season makes the restrictions necessary.

"Last season, flu season didn't start until mid-February. So, sharp increase, a lot earlier and it's hitting the patient population," said Firkus.

Hospital officials said the measure is meant to keep patients safe.

"This is to protect not only their loved ones, but also other patients in the facility, and, you know, our community members. If people are sick, they really should be staying home and doing some self quarantine and isolation," said Firkus.

But not all hospitals are taking the same approach.

Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield is not limiting visitors.

"We don't want to say, ‘family only,' because sometimes people have no family nearby, and a good friend acts as a family member," said Terri Dums, Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital Infection Control Manager.

St. Joseph's officials said contact between patients and close friends can help healing.

"I think we lose some of the benefits we see from having contact with their loved ones or people they're concerned about," said Dums.

However, officials there do want to remind visitors to think twice before coming to the hospital.

"We're advising people to think before they come, and not come, certainly, if they're not healthy," said Dums.

Leaders from both hospitals say they're doing their best to keep more people from getting sick. Both hospitals have set up hand sanitizing stations and are offering visitors masks to protect patients.

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