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INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 8, 2019 – Flu has reached widespread levels across Indiana, including Marion County. In response to the rising flu activity, Marion County Public Health Department director Virginia A. Caine, M.D., is requesting that hospitals in Marion County begin temporary restrictions for visitors.

As part of a policy developed by the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety, hospitals of all major health systems in Marion County have agreed to begin visitor restrictions no later than Friday, Jan. 11.

These temporary restrictions include, but are not limited to:
 No visitors with symptoms of influenza.
 No visitors under the age of 18.
 Visitors limited to immediate family as identified by the patient.

Marion County hospitals participating in the visitor restrictions include those within Community Health Network; Franciscan Health Indianapolis; St. Vincent, including Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital; and Indiana University Health, including Riley Hospital for Children; as well Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, and Richard L. Roudebush V.A. Medical Center.

Visitors are encouraged to check a health care facility’s website or call in advance about its restrictions and any exceptions.

Influenza is a respiratory illness that can cause fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue. Severe complications of influenza infection include pneumonia which can lead to hospitalization and death.

Individuals who are at the highest risk for experiencing complications of influenza include:

 Children less than two years old and adults older than 65.
 Individuals who are immunocompromised.
 Individuals with chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, hematological, and
metabolic disorders.
 Individuals who are obese.
 Women who are pregnant or during the first two weeks after giving birth.

The most effective way to protect against the flu is to get a dose of seasonal flu vaccine. Other recommendations to decrease the risk of spreading flu include coughing into your shirt sleeve and washing hands frequently and thoroughly. People who suspect they are infected with influenza should stay home from work or school and seek evaluation by a medical provider.

For the week of Dec. 23-29, 2018, the percentage of emergency department visits in Marion County related to influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.70 percent, which is considered high. This reflects an increase from the previous week, when the percentage of emergency departments visits for ILI was 2.16 percent. The highest age-specific emergency department visits related to ILI is 8.02 percent among children in the 0-4 age group.

The number of states reporting high influenza-like illness has increased sharply recently.
Thirteen flu-related deaths have been reported nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Marion County Public Health Department offers low-cost flu vaccine at its district health offices. Flu shots are $20 for everyone age 2 and older. Children under 2 years old are free. For district health office locations and hours, call the Marion County Public Health Department’s immunization program at (317) 221-2121 or visit MarionHealth.org.

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, Butler University, the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana State Department of Health and the Marion County Public Health Department. The coalition is a non-profit public charity
organization.

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Media Contact:
Curt Brantingham
Media/Public Information Coordinator
317-221-2316 (o) │ 317-525-7450 (c)
cbrantingham@hhcorp.org

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