Indiana has been hit especially hard this flu season, with 43 reported flu deaths. In Marion County, flu activity has leveled off and then dropped over the last two weeks, according to the Marion County Health Department’s Dr. Virginia Caine, who also said regular hospital visitation policies will resume this Friday.
The restrictions on hospital visitors were implemented Jan. 18 when flu activity in and around Indianapolis had reached its highest level since 2009. Local hospitals agreed to restrict visitors to immediate family members only, barring anyone under the age of 18 and anyone who had symptoms of the flu.
Although flu activity in Marion County has since dropped, Dr. Caine urges Hoosiers to get a flu shot and continue taking precautions to avoid spreading the flu, such as properly washing hands frequently and avoiding crowded rooms where a lot of people are confined to a small space.
The Marion County Health Department reported 401 emergency department visits to local hospitals for influenza-like illness (ILI) last week for the period between Jan. 27 and Feb. 2 – down 89 from the prior week when hospitals reported 490 E.R. visits for ILI.
Local health officials praised hospitals for implementing the visitor restrictions, saying the policy helped protect patients.
"The implementation of the county-wide visitor restriction policy over the past three weeks has been a perfect example of hospitals coming together to improve outcomes for patients," said Dr. Charles Miramonti, who is the chairman of the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety. "The success of this joint effort, along with the mandatory flu vaccines that several hospital systems enacted this past fall, has helped to prevent the spread of the flu from reaching a critical point."