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Baystate Franklin imposes visitor restrictions because of spike in flu cases

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield is now restricting some visitors due to the flu season. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ



Recorder Staff
Monday, January 29, 2018

GREENFIELD — As a result of a spike in flu numbers across the state this past week, Baystate Health announced visitor restrictions that are effective immediately in its four hospitals, including Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

The visitor restrictions call for: No visitors under 12 years old are permitted; no more than two visitors at a time are recommended per patient; visitors should be “essential for the well-being” of patients; and visitors who have been exposed to the flu at home, or who have flu symptoms, are asked to refrain from visiting patients.

The restrictions will be in place indefinitely, Baystate Franklin Medical Center spokeswoman Molly Macmunn said.

“This is as a result of the peak of this happening earlier than anticipated,” Macmunn said, adding the hospital will typically impose these restrictions at some point during the flu season every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday this is the worst year of the flu in the country since 2009’s pandemic of swine flu.

Part of the reason for the uptick this month is because of children returning to school after winter break, said Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. He added, in a conference call with other leaders at the CDC, that the nation is about halfway through the flu season at this point.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also put out its annual recommendation on how to deal with this year’s flu. These suggestions do not include placing restrictions on visitors.

“Visitor restrictions seem to make sense, but have not been rigorously studied such that there is a scientific evidence-basis,” state Department of Public Health spokeswoman Ann Scales said in a statement. “A number of hospitals statewide may decide to initiate visitor restriction during peak influenza activity, balancing negative and positive aspects of doing so, and we are supportive of their efforts.”

Additional recommendations from Baystate Health include: Patients should come to appointments alone or be accompanied by no more than one other person, if needed; patients are discouraged from bringing children with them to their appointments, because children are more likely to transmit the flu to others.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264