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Hospital changes visitor policy

Rise in flu cases cited

GREENFIELD — A rise in influenza infections has led Baystate Health to temporarily change its visitor policy at facilities including Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

Visitors under the age of 14 will not be allowed in the hospital. The health system is asking all visitors who have been exposed to the flu to refrain from visiting patients at the hospitals — and is also recommending that an individual have no more than two visitors at any given time.

Patients should come to appointments alone or with only one other person, if necessary. The health system is discouraging people from bringing children to their appointments.

“We have seen a marked increase in the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases in our community, including patients at the hospital,” said Mary Ellen Ahearn, infection control coordinator for Baystate Franklin.

“To help reduce the spread of infection, we are implementing the same visitor restrictions we did last year when the numbers started to rise,” she said. “These are similar to those we used in 2009 to address the new H1N1 virus.”

Baystate Health also offers tips to make visits to the hospital as safe as possible:

∎ Always wash hands upon entering and leaving the patient’s room.

∎ Assess health before visiting the hospital; do not visit if you are at higher risk to contract infections.

∎ If visiting a patient with a contagious disease, consider calling instead.

∎ If visiting a patient with a contagious illness, wear protective items offered by the medical staff.

∎ Get a flu shot, as it is the best protection against the virus.

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