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Area hospital further restricts visitors

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Tri-County Hospital (TCH) has announced further changes to its visitation guidelines as a precaution against the spread of influenza, including H1N1, within the community. TCH is now restricting hospital visitors to immediate family over the age of 18 only.

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Effective immediately, officials at TCH are asking residents for full support of a change that will restrict visitors who are 18 years and younger. Accordingly, visitors who fall under this age category will not be permitted to visit patients, including siblings, friends or family members. The restrictions apply to hospital lobbies, waiting areas and patient rooms. Families are also being asked to limit the number of people accompanying them to clinic and emergency room visits.

"We recognize that these actions may cause some disruption to families but our first priority is ensuring the safest possible environment for patients, staff and the public by minimizing the potential for exposure to the flu," explained Kathy Kleen, Director of Patient Care Services.

Until the flu incidence rate has significantly decreased, these new guidelines will be in effect, based on several factors:

Of all reported H1N1 cases, a very high ratio has been in children and young adults up to 24 years of age. Further, children are often contagious before they show signs of an illness. Allowing this age group to visit in hospital patient areas presents potential risks to patients and others.

"As the 18 years and under population has been determined to be more susceptible to H1N1, visiting a hospital significantly increases the child's risk for contracting the flu," said Kleen.

For more information and updates regarding both the seasonal flu and the novel H1N1 flu, visit our website at www.tricountyhospital.org.

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