Greenville Health System is requesting that children under the age of 18 refrain from visiting hospitalized patients because of the level of flu and respiratory illnesses now in the Upstate. GHS is also requesting that anyone with signs of the flu, respiratory illness or cold temporarily refrain from visiting hospitalized patients.
Hospital officials say the measure will help protect patients from contracting the flu and respiratory illnesses, which are at high levels in parts of the Upstate. The measure will also help protect visiting children from themselves becoming ill and so help contain the spread of the illnesses in the broader community.
“The safety and well-being of our patients, visitors and staff are our highest priority,” said Angelo Sinopoli, MD, chief medical officer. “As such, we are taking this important step to help prevent the spread of the flu in our hospitals and ensure everyone’s safety during what is proving to be a very busy flu season.”
A mandatory visitation restriction is not currently in effect, but infection prevention experts at GHS urge visitors to follow the suggested precautions because of the potential serious illness that can result from influenza.
According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s most recent flu report, a total of eight lab confirmed deaths have been reported since Sept. 28, 2014.
“We are monitoring the spread of influenza activity in the Upstate and across South Carolina,” said Dr. Matthew Crist, DHEC’s healthcare-associated infections section director. “Reports of cases and hospitalizations have been rising, further emphasizing the need for continued efforts to vaccinate against this serious illness, as well as take other preventive steps such as covering your cough with your sleeve or a tissue, staying home if you are sick, and washing your hands often with soap and water.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between 5% and 20% of U.S. residents get the flu, and it is estimated that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized on average for flu-related complications each year.