SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2016

Minnesota hospitals tighten visitor restrictions in wake of flu

Some Minnesota hospitals are tightening visiting rules in response to a spike in influenza cases.

For many hospitals, this is the first time they have changes their visitor restrictions since the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009. The hospitals are telling those who wish to visit relatives or friends to just stay home if they might also be sick, according to StarTribune.com.

The New Ulm Medical Center will now only allow immediate relatives to visit, and only then if they are healthy. Patients may also only see two visitors at a time. The maternity ward at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota, is now considered to be off limits to anyone with a cough, fever or other flu-like symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic said that it would place similar restrictions on its satellite institutions in New Prague, Mankato, Fairmont, Springfield, St. James and Waseca.

Most hospitals in the Twin Cities have yet to alter their visiting rules, but many have posted signs to discourage those who may potentially be ill to enter their facilities, StarTribune.com reports.

The strictest measures are being implemented in the southern half of the state, where health officials say the flu has hit the hardest. Officials say the restrictions are designed to protect patients and staff. Influenza is particularly dangerous for the elderly and those with some underlying conditions.