In response to a significant rise in flu activity, Marion County Public Health Department director Dr. Virginia A. Caine has requested temporary visitor restrictions at hospitals in Marion County beginning Friday, March 11.  

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 implement Tier 1 of the coalition’s Patient Visitor Policy starting on March 11. Restrictions will stay in place until Dr. Caine and the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety determine they are no longer needed, based on regular assessments of county flu data and trends.

Marion County hospitals participating in the temporary visitor restrictions include those within Community Health Network, Franciscan St. Francis Health, Indiana University Health, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, and St. Vincent Health, as well as Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Richard L. Roudebush V.A. Medical Center.   

The Tier 1 option of temporary visitor restrictions includes:

  • Restricting visitors with symptoms of influenza.
  • Restricting visitors under the age of 18.
  • Restricting visitation to immediate family as identified by the patient.

Visitors are encouraged to check a specific hospital’s website or call in advance about its restrictions.

“This extra line of protection is needed right now in order to reduce the risk of exposing patients, visitors and hospital staff to the flu virus,” said Dr. Caine. “Influenza is a contagious virus that can cause significant illness and, in certain cases, lead to hospitalization or death.”

For the week of Feb. 21-27, hospitals reported 293 emergency department visits – or 2.4 percent of all emergency department visits – from patients whose chief complaint was influenza-like illness. This reflects a 74 percent increase from the previous week, Feb. 14-20, when hospital emergency departments reported 168 patient visits – or 1.8 percent of total visits – with influenza-like illness. Numbers for Feb. 28-Mar. 5 are not complete, but are expected to indicate a continued rise.  

Dr. Caine urges everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot. The Marion County Public Health Department offers low-cost flu vaccine at its district health offices. Flu shots are $20 for adults as well as kids ages 2-18; and free for children under two years old. For district health office locations and hours, call the Marion County Public Health Department’s flu hotline at 317-221-2121.

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.

Curt Brantingham
Media/Public Information Coordinator
317-221-2316 (o) │ 317-525-7450 (c)

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