Hospital Visitor Restriction Policy, Free Flu Clinic Announced as Potential Flu Cases in Marion County Increase

(INDIANAPOLIS) – At the request of Marion County Public Health Department DirectorDr. Virginia Caine, Indianapolis-area hospitals will implement a temporary hospital visitation policy effective Friday, Jan. 18. The request is in response to the rising number of patient visits to Marion County emergency departments for influenza-like illnesses.

For the week of Jan. 6-Jan. 12, the health department reports 403 emergency department visits countywide for influenza-like illnesses representing 3.9 percent of all visits. This is a 69 percent increase from the previous week, Dec. 30-Jan 5, when 238 visits for influenza-like illnesses were reported accounting for 2.2 percent of all emergency department visits.

As a result, all hospitals and health networks that participate in the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety have agreed to implement the least restrictive option of the 2009 Patient Visitation Tier 1 Policy. This includes Marion County hospitals within IU Health, St. Vincent Health, Franciscan St. Francis Health, and Community Health Network, as well as Wishard Hospital and the Roudebush V.A. Medical Center. 

 

The tier 1 option of the patient visitation policy has the following restrictions:
  • No visitors with influenza-like illnesses, fever or cough.
  • No visitors under the age of 18 – unless special arrangements are made.
  • No visitors allowed beyond immediate family, partner or significant other.

 

The policy was developed in 2009 during the H1N1 outbreak. This is only the second time for activating these restrictions, and it is the first time that hospitals have implemented the policy at the same time as a group.

“The number of possible flu cases in Marion County increased dramatically last week,” said Dr. Caine. “We must take extra precautions to prevent the spread of this virus to patients, visitors and people who work in area hospitals.”

Dr. Caine said the visitor restrictions will stay in place until she and the coalition decide they are no longer needed based on regular assessments of Marion County flu data.

“This decision was made to put patient safety first. Doing what’s best to improve outcomes for patients is why the Indianapolis Coalition for Patent Safety exists,” said Dr. Charles Miramonti, chairman, Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety. “The health department has an aggressive surveillance program that examines the spread of the flu not only locally and regionally, but also nationally. The hope is we can stay ahead of the game and prevent the spread of the flu from reaching a critical point.”

The Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety is comprised of chief executive, medical, nursing, quality, safety and pharmacy officers from six Indianapolis health systems. In addition, there is participation by entities such as Eli Lilly, Indiana and Purdue Universities, the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., Indiana Hospital Association and HealthCare Excel. The coalition is a non-profit public charity organization.

In addition to the hospital visitation restrictions, the Marion County Public Health Department will hold a free flu shot clinic on Friday, Jan. 18, from 1-5 p.m. at the health department’s training center, 4012 N. Rural St. Flu shots will also be administered for free on that day only at all of the health department’s district health offices. Children age 18 and under must be with a parent or guardian to receive a shot. For a list of locations, call the Flu Hotline at 221-2121, or visit MCHD.com.